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Blogs as advertising It seems to me that simply stating that you are a lawyer on your blog implies that you could or would be willing to represent me if I contacted you for that purpose. “Law blogs raising prickly ethical issues” [NLJ, Oct. 9]. I believe that when you operate a business, such as a law firm, you are always looking for the next client so you can stay in business. If talking about your profession in a blog is advertising, then we also need to regulate stockbrokers who may have a blog or physicians who happen to blog. I think that it is ludicrous to suggest that blogs are a form of advertising that needs to be regulated. Next you will have to submit transcripts of what you say in conversation with people if you happen to mention that you are a lawyer because it could be misconstrued as advertising. Christopher Johnston Metairie, La. Law firm diversity issues As a young, white, straight male attorney, who also happens to be politically progressive, it was with some interest that I read your publication’s Oct. 23 “In Focus” section regarding issues surrounding increasing law firm diversity. I did note one glaring omission, however. Has it occurred to the authors of these various articles that one of the results of this drive has been the firing of “nondiverse” attorneys on the basis of their race, gender or sexual orientation? When a major client demands that its diversity goals be met with the implicit or explicit threat to otherwise take its business elsewhere, is there any doubt how a firm will react? Naturally it will do whatever is easiest and most likely to satisfy the client and thereby preserve a major revenue stream. At the margins, if this means that one “diverse” attorney is retained while another “nondiverse” attorney is terminated, then so be it. Any legal or ethical implications may be sorted out once the client is mollified, if at all. This is not an academic argument. Go to any bar function with young attorneys in the Washington area, and one readily hears stories about firmwide “diversity surveys” that happen to precede subsequent termination decisions that can only logically be attributable to meeting an important client’s newly asserted diversity demands. Frankly, I am not certain that there is a more equitable method to truly and permanently increase diversity at law firms that does not involve a fundamental restructuring of the dominant legal culture. In my opinion, this would be painful and threatening to those in control of most firms and, therefore, is unlikely to occur. But surely firing people even partially on the basis of an immutable characteristic is as unjust when done in the name of increasing diversity as it is when done to maintain homogeneity. To ignore that reality and leave it unaddressed is not only short-sighted, it is intellectually and morally dishonest. Ben Martin Falls Church, Va. Chevron responds Your article about Bowoto v. Chevron Corp., “Lawyers rebuked in human rights case” [NLJ, Sept. 4], explained the plaintiffs’ version of the case but not the defendants’. Plus, it missed the real significance of the lengthy decisions recently issued by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston. In our view, the lawsuit is brought by Nigerians militants who, along with more than 100 others, seized an offshore barge and held hostages. They had threatened “sea piracy” and violence if Chevron Nigeria did not give them jobs and money. They allege that the Nigerian military used excessive force in ending the three-day siege and in another unrelated incident involving two villages seven months later. They are now trying to hold Chevron Corp. and its domestic subsidiaries liable in U.S. courts for the alleged actions of the Nigerian military, a charge we categorically reject. The real significance of the series of decisions referred to in the article is that the court dismissed all of their claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act and their main claims under the Alien Tort Statute, leaving only a claim for “crimes against humanity.” As to that claim, the court expressed skepticism, and it will be the subject of the next round of motions. That leaves only a RICO claim and state law claims, which will also be the subject of dispositive motions filed soon. Nor did your article accurately capture the significance of the order to which it devoted the most space. As shown in the court record, the confusion was between two subsidiaries with very similar names: Chevron Overseas Petroleum Inc. and Chevron Overseas Petroleum. Our lawyers discovered that mistake and brought it to the attention of the plaintiffs’ counsel over a year ago. Although the court found that the plaintiffs were excused from failing to sue one of those subsidiaries earlier, it added that the finding had no practical effect on the case. The court also denied the plaintiffs’ request to prevent the defendants from correcting the confusion between the names of the two companies. Charlie Stewart San Ramon, Calif. The writer is manager of public affairs for Chevron Corp. Editor’s note: The article focused primarily on the judge’s opinion that criticized Chevron’s lawyers for misleading the court about the proper corporate entity to be named as a defendant, and not on the lawsuit’s underlying claims.

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