A front page article in the Nov. 17 Herald reported a decision by the Central Bucks School District to engage the law firm of Duane Morris LLP, and specifically Philadelphia partner Bill McSwain, to investigate complaints of discrimination made by CBSD students.
The complaints allege discrimination based on LGBTQ status.
Duane Morris is a global law firm with more than 800 lawyers worldwide, and is one of the country’s most exclusive, and thus one of the most expensive, firms.
My first reaction was to wonder who would be paying for this, remembering the portion of our taxes supporting the Central Bucks School District. Large global firms such as Duane Morris are well-suited for significant anti-trust matters, large corporate acquisitions and multi-district commercial litigation. Billing rates match the size of the firm.
As such, Duane Morris seems an odd fit to review student discrimination complaints. Certainly, there are small and mid-size firms in Philadelphia and Bucks County that are fully capable of handling this work. There was nothing in the article to suggest that CBSD conducted a search for such firms before selecting Duane Morris.
But more important, the statements and previous legal representations attributed to Mr. McSwain, if accurate, make him uniquely unsuited to investigate complaints of this nature. It may be true, in fact, that he is capable of doing so in a competent and unbiased manner, but the complaining students, and the community supporting them, could reasonably draw inferences otherwise.
It is not fair to the students to take any action suggesting that the deck is stacked against them. The board has made a grievous error that calls into question its intention to search for the truth here, but it’s not too late to do the right thing.
Find another law firm.
Jim Kellett, Carversville