Attempts by Fortune 500 legal departments to force outside counsel to hire more minorities and women may tempt law firms to violate federal anti-discrimination laws, an affirmative action foe says.

In a research paper released Tuesday, Curt Levey, a conservative activist who helped lead the high-profile fight against the University of Michigan’s affirmative action programs, says firms may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the federal law that prohibits employment discrimination, if they give minorities special preferences in the hiring process. “Whether you are using racial preferences because your clients want you to or [because] you want to, you almost certainly are risking liability,” Levey said.

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