Promoting Diversity in the Courtroom


Judge Harold Baer, Jr., who sits on the SDNY bench, has the courage of his convictions to do right even when others disagree.  In October 2010, Judge Baer issued an order in a class action litigation In Re: Gildan Activewear, Inc., Securities Litigation 08-cv-5048 directing two of the largest plaintiff class action law firms to “make every effort” to put at least one woman and one minority lawyer on the case. Although Judge Baer advised counsel that his order was not intended to be critical of lead counsel or their firms, he considered diversity considerations  goals that he would urge be met in similar cases that would come before him in the future.  Over his years of judicial service, Judge Baer was impressed that so many of the law firm litigation teams in his courtroom lacked diversity.  Judge Baer expressed concern over the lack of minority and female lawyers in law firms generally and saw the counsel approval process as a tool at his disposal to address what he considered a persistent problem.  Complaints by members of the bar that Judge Baer’s directive was an abuse of his counsel approval powers under thePrivate Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 miss the point entirely.  Judge Baer’s intention was not to impact stare decisis under the act.  Rather, it was a courageous effort by a federal district judge to call attention to a serious problem in our profession.  We applaud Judge Baer.