Legal academia flexed its social media muscles over the weekend, underscoring that avoiding a Big Law career doesn’t mean giving up the chance to influence Big Law firms.
The Twitter flare-up began with a “Wow” on Saturday evening from the account of Ian Samuel, a Climenko Fellow and lecturer at Harvard Law School, who posted excerpts from what he called a “super gross” mandatory arbitration agreement that Munger, Tolles & Olson had demanded from its summer associates. (You can read all about Munger Tolles’ policy here.)
It culminated the next day with Munger Tolles vowing to end the policy for all associates. “In this case, we were wrong, and we are fixing it,” the firm said in a tweeted statement just after noon on Sunday.
In between, Munger Tolles became a social media punching bag. And many of the hardest punchers, such as Samuel, were lecturers, professors and deans at the law schools that keep firms such as Munger Tolles supplied with fresh talent year after year.
Dan Epps, an associate professor of Washington University School of Law, tweeted Sunday morning that Harvard, Yale and Stanford law schools “should refuse to let any firm that requires summer associates to sign an agreement like this participate in on-campus recruiting.”
Leah Litman, an assistant law professor at UC Irvine, also blasted Munger Tolles’ policy on Twitter, and in a blog post titled “Munger Tolles Proves Why We Still Need #MeToo.”
University of Michigan Law School professor Richard Primus admonished law students to read the Munger Tolles policy, and “choose where you work carefully.”
Georgetown Law’s Brian Wolfman weighed in too, as did other professors at schools around the country.
Epps said he thought the outpouring from law schools had clearly influenced Munger Tolles’ decision to drop the policy. “There is no doubt about it,” he said in an interview Monday.
“Law firms don’t like criticism in general,” he said. “It was very helpful that a bunch of people in the legal community said this is not a great way to treat people.”
And, said Epps, the fallout is likely to continue.
“We have heard from a lot of people saying other firms are doing this,” he said, referring to forcing associates to sign arbitration agreements. “It’s a moving target,” he said, but the names of those firms will come out, and they won’t be spared any more than Munger Tolles.