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How I Became A Casualty Of The Ongoing Ideological Purge In American Jurisprudence

In the months since I was terminated for expressing opinions, I have learned that my experience is all too common in Big Law.

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I am a Navy SEAL and Iraq war veteran who transitioned back into civilian life as a lawyer.  Recent experience has taught me that people with my beliefs and values are viewed as parochial, at best, and in any case are not welcomed by many of those who are considered “leaders” in the legal profession.

One of the things I realized soon after I started practicing law is that there are very few practicing attorneys who are veterans, and even fewer who serve in positions of influence within our largest law firms. This is part of the problem. After my honorable discharge from the Navy, I earned my undergraduate and law degrees from Rutgers University in New Jersey before being hired as an associate at McCarter & English LLP (M&E), a firm of more than 400 lawyers and the oldest law firm in New Jersey.

I noticed a change in politicization at the firm between 2019-2020. I was alarmed to see images on M&E’s website that appeared to support Black Lives Matter (BLM) — the controversial organization involved in “fiery but mostly peaceful” protests that resulted in multiple deaths and over $2 billion in damages. The firm also appeared to have an anti-Trump political lean.  

After receiving multiple emails from M&E’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee commending numerous events, I sent a reply email asking them why they failed to send out an email on Sept. 11 that year honoring and remembering the fallen. In return, I received an email from DEI Committee member and renowned LGBT advocate Natalie Watson (now a NJ Superior Court judge) chastising me.

Punished for Thought Crimes

The firm’s chair human resources officer turned down my request to be on the firm’s DEI Committee, stating there was already another veteran, Alexander Major, on the 14-member committee. Despite me being the president of Veterans Alumni of Rutgers University and the founder and lead SEAL of the NYC SEAL Swim, the firm didn’t want me anywhere near their DEI Committee. What’s more, my assignments in the Bankruptcy, Restructuring, and Litigation Practice Group were replaced — in majority — by assignments representing alleged sex offenders of minors. I fought for the right to speak freely and for the right of others to do the same, yet I was paid far less than my peers for the same work and increasingly marginalized within the firm. 

In another instance, I attempted to help a former SEAL who was contacted by the FBI because he attended the Jan. 6 protest in Washington, D.C.  He did not enter the Capitol building but rather joined other Americans in expressing his frustration with the political elites in the halls of power. Since I am not a criminal lawyer, I did what any lawyer should do in such a circumstance — I made inquiries within my firm to find a lawyer to represent a fellow veteran. I was met with disgust and disdain for even asking Robert Mintz, Alexander Major, and Geoff Rosemond (all prominent lawyers at M&E). When Alexander Major replied to my request he stated, “Going to shoot straight. I’ve lived under oaths my entire adult life, and none is more sacrosanct than my oath to serve. But I’ll leave my emotions out of it and simply say I have no interest in providing any assistance.

In December 2023, I made a post on LinkedIn in which I expressed my beliefs about the destructive role of violent ideologies, as well as how the roots of such thinking played a role in the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and in the terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. Both repeated patterns of mass horror. In my post, I shared “my opinion that there’s also a radical culture within the Islamic world that promotes antisocial values and glorifies violence.” I personally witnessed two suicide bombings in Baghdad, Iraq — I have seen the result of violent ideologies close-up.

Even though my personal experiences have informed this perspective, I received a lot of pushback about the post and was ultimately fired from M&E for expressing this opinion.

That post is still on my LinkedIn page, and I stand by every word of it.

Not Alone

In the months since I was terminated for expressing opinions, I have learned that my experience is all too common these days. It is undeniable that conservative lawyers are either being driven out of the largest and most prestigious law firms or being bullied into silent corners where they are expected to bill hours and keep their thoughts and values to themselves. 

Consider the case of Paul Clement and Erin Murphy who, after securing a victory for the Second Amendment in the United States Supreme Court, were forced out of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, a firm of nearly 3,000 lawyers and almost $5 billion in annual revenue. Then there is the case of two female lawyers at Hogan Lovells (a firm of more than 2,000 lawyers and nearly $3 billion in annual revenue), who were ostracized from their firm for expressing pro-life values in response to the unhinged hysteria that gripped large law firms in the wake of the Dobbs decision. 

Beyond these high-profile cases involving some of the largest law firms in the world, I’ve heard from many others within the profession who are experiencing the same thing. Most of them want to remain anonymous for fear of winding up like me. But others, like Chad Williams, are starting to speak up publicly. Williams took a public stand to expose corruption by public school officials and lawyers at the large law firm that represented the school during the pandemic. Leaders at the large law firm where Williams was an equity partner sought to suppress his efforts to expose the misconduct and ultimately marginalized him because of his persistent objections to the firm’s Covid policies.  

There is a common thread woven through all these stories. There are those who fully accept and adopt the approved narrative, and there are the “others.”  One who is in the ideological minority (i.e., anyone who holds traditional values or, heaven forbid, supports Donald Trump) has a choice to make. They can either censor themselves, participate in the mandatory DEI reeducation initiatives, and collect their big salaries, or they can expose themselves as “infidels” and suffer the consequences. The sarcasm, denigration, and condescension pervade the entire legal profession, and it will continue to have a profound negative consequence for our system of justice.    

A Rallying Cry for Lawyers

Being terminated by M&E caused a lot of stress for me and my family.  Thanks to the brotherhood of my fellow veterans, I have found a home with the Parlatore Law Group, a firm led by a fearless advocate named Tim Parlatore who successfully represented fellow Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher in a case where the NCIS was caught covertly monitoring attorney-client emails.

If you think Donald Trump and his lawyers are the only people under attack, you are mistaken. The people leading the purge of ideological conservatives in the legal profession today are the same people who will become judges and elected officials tomorrow. They are the same people who will decide whether citizens who protest the corruption and incompetence of our government officials will be entitled to quality legal representation and a fair trial. Everything they are doing is designed to silence and eliminate conservative voices from those centers of influence.

I am sharing my story in hopes that good men and women in the legal profession will lend their voices to this discussion. 

As abolitionist Charles Sumner observed, every man is entitled to his natural rights, “justice to all, without distinction of person, without abridgment, and without compromise. Let justice be done, though it drags down the pillars of the sky.” Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caelum. 


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