Going back several decades, Big Law firms that wanted to address a lack of representation in associate hiring, partner promotions and firm leadership roles targeted underrepresented groups specifically. If a scholarship, fellowship or mentorship opportunity arose with “diversity” in the title, one could safely assume it was meant to solicit applications from such underrepresented groups.

That dynamic changed last year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-based affirmative action in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. Although the case had no bearing on private employers, conservative legal advocate Edward Blum seized on growing anti-DEI sentiment and began sending threatening letters to Big Law firms that advertised diversity fellowships that specifically sought applicants from underrepresented groups.