Skadden lawyer accused of racism over Paris attacks article

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By Thomas Connelly on

Associate authored piece titled “It’s okay if you care more about the Paris attacks than the Beirut bombings”


A Skadden lawyer has been accused of racism after publicly defending people who care more about the Paris attacks than other atrocities.

Maxim Mayer-Cesiano, (pictured) an associate at the global firm’s New York office, penned an article yesterday in the Washington Post headlined:

It’s okay if you care more about the Paris attacks than the Beirut bombings.

The contentious headline was followed with a tagline proclaiming, “That doesn’t make you a racist.”

Unfortunately for Mayer-Cesiano, who works in Skadden’s mergers and acquisitions team, many have disagreed vehemently with this views — which were justified with, among other things, a bizarre analogy about how people only grieve for their own relatives. Mayer-Cesiano explains it like this:

But while all people are created equal, it is no crime to rue the loss of something familiar more than the loss of something remote or altogether unknown. We weep for the loss of a relative to cancer, but not for the loss of a stranger to the same disease


Today Mayer-Cesiano’s piece caught the eye of journalist and ex-lawyer Joe Patrice. In a scathing rebuttal, Patrice, formerly of Cleary Gottlieb, has hit back on the US legal blog Above the Law Redline, writing:

The subtitle boldly proclaims: ‘That doesn’t make you a racist.’ Actually… no, that’s exactly what it makes you.

Lambasting the Skadden lawyer, Patrice continued:

Sure, not keeping up with Beirut or Nigeria doesn’t mean you’re ready to don a hood and burn a cross (probably), but being in any way aware of these incidents and making the conscious decision to dismiss or downgrade those attacks in your mind is pretty much definitionally racist.

Whatever your views on Mayer-Cesiano’s article — and it’s worth bearing in mind that some left-leaning, ethnic minority commenters agree with him — the big issue for legal market-watchers is how the article made it past Skadden’s press office.

Global corporate law firms are notoriously reluctant to express public opinions on anything vaguely contentious for fear of offending their many clients and potential clients. How one of Skadden’s junior lawyers ended up penning an article in his own name in a national newspaper expressing a controversial view about a major terrorist attack is mystifying.

Legal Cheek would love to be a fly on the wall in Skadden’s PR department today.