Davis Polk, one of the country’s most prestigious law firms, recently rescinded employment offers made to three students whom the firm believed had led organizations at Harvard and Columbia, who issued statements blaming Israel for the October 7 attack by Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis. ,
On Tuesday, the firm said it was reconsidering the decision by two of the three students who fought their dismissals, saying they had not authorized the letters, which had no personal signatories. The potential reversal highlights the implications for both employers and employees of what has become one of the most emotionally divisive issues in recent decades.
New York law firm said two students played leadership roles in signing groups a letter One at Columbia and one at Harvard was affiliated with Palestine Solidarity Groups, which jointly wrote a letter holding the “Israeli regime” responsible for the deadly violence. The Columbia students’ letter expressed “full solidarity with the Palestinian resistance.”
The company neither identified the students nor said which of the two proposals it was reconsidering.
“The views expressed in some of the statements signed by law school student organizations in recent days are in direct violation of our firm’s value system,” Davis Polk said in a statement. To ensure that “we continue to maintain a supportive and inclusive work environment,” the firm said, “the student leaders responsible for signing these statements are no longer welcome at our firm.”
Neil Barr, Davis Polk’s chairman and managing partner, said in an interview Tuesday that the company does not want employees who support the atrocities of the Hamas attack working for them.
Last week, a large number of law students from Columbia, Harvard and other schools to whom Davis Polk had promised employment arrived to say that they did not agree with the statements issued from the organizations of which they were part and Israel was blamed for this. The Oct. 7 murders, said Katie Moss, a Davis-Polk spokeswoman.
Ms. Moss said several students also said they had resigned from those groups or similar groups after the Harvard and Columbia student groups issued their statements.
Davis Polk said it is in talks with students who fought their dismissals, but has not yet made a decision about whether to reverse the move.
The Davis Polk situation underscores the challenges of bringing controversial and political issues into the workplace, and it raises a new question: whether an employer can hold an employee or potential employee personally accountable for every action taken by that affinity group. Can appoint, of which he is a member. ,
Another law firm, Winston & Strawn, recently rescinded an employment offer made to Rhina Workman, a law student at New York University and president of the university’s Student Bar Association, who wrote a message to her student group Which said that “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life.”
In recent days, some large Wall Street investors, including hedge fund manager William Ackman, have been calling on corporations to refuse to hire students who are members of groups that have sought to highlight Israel’s policies as the cause of the attacks. Have signed the statements. On X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr. Ackman demanded that Harvard release the names of members of these student organizations.
Davis Polk is known for its work advising some of the largest financial institutions and corporations on mergers, restructurings and litigation. Ms Moss said the company had taken its own decision to cancel the offers.