|A sea of white faces: A recent class of Balch associates|
Balch and Bingham's public-relations gambit to portray itself as a champion of diversity has generated mostly laughter in the Birmingham legal ommunity, according to a report at banbalch.com. In fact, writes publisher K.B. Forbes, the "Balch Business Boost" shows signs of enhancing discrimination against minority- and woman-owned businesses, as opposed to easing it. Writes Forbes, under the headline "Balch’s Laughable Publicity Stunt Boosts Discrimination":
The public and legal community are roaring with laughter.
Embattled law firm Balch & Bingham has launched the biggest publicity stunt since their chicken leg pazoola, and again Balch’s objective of rehabilitating their image is failing miserably.
No one believes the firm.
Legal Schnauzer, the well-read legal blog, pointed out in a Tuesday post that Balch’s alleged racist conduct went counter to the vision of PNC Bank which is acquiring Balch’s alleged number two client, BBVA USA Bank. Legal Schnauzer pointed out how PNC and their current law firm jointly sponsor diversity fellowships for minorities.
On Wednesday, in what looks like a knee-jerk reaction, Balch dispatched a news release announcing the launch of a program called “Balch Business Boost” that offers free legal services to women and minority-owned businesses.
Not a single minority or female attorney from Balch was quoted or highlighted in the news release.
Was the publicity stunt a last-minute move of desperation by Balch’s all-white leadership?
Could the PR fluff backfire on Balch? Forbes says yes:
Instead of helping the firm, the publicity stunt appears to have boosted discrimination and highlighted Balch’s alleged racist misconduct.
- Of the over 200 attorneys at Balch & Bingham only six attorneys are African-American or people of color. Engaging in alleged “tokenism,” each one of them is located in a completely different Balch office. In 2019, Balch let go of their only African-American female attorney in Birmingham who headed diversity efforts at the firm.
- Balch & Bingham has yet to apologize to the African-American community of North Birmingham for the scheme targeting poor African-American children and suppressing African-Americans from having their toxic property tested by the EPA.
- Balch has yet to apologize for their role in the alleged abhorrent “whites-only” land grab in Vincent, Alabama that impacted the descendants of slaves.
- Balch has yet to apologize for their alleged involvement in the “divide and dilute” effort against African-American voters in 2011.
- In the 1960’s, when Balch established that long relationship with BBVA USA Bank, one of their top partners was not only a co-founder of BBVA’s predecessor, but a staunch racial segregationist who belonged to racist Governor George Wallace’s inner circle.
Upon close reading, Balch's "boost" appears to come with significant strings attached. Writes Forbes:
And now let’s take a quick look at Balch’s program to allegedly help minority-owned businesses.
Beyond financial thresholds, Balch declares, after all the hype, “Inclusion is subject to additional requirements, and acceptance will be determined on a case-by-case basis.“
In other words, Balch & Bingham reserves the right to discriminate and exclude minority-owned businesses based on unknown requirements and determinations.
Instead of fighting systemic racism, Balch appears to be affirming systemic racism.
Instead of helping their image and brand, Balch appears to be hurting their reputation even further.
Instead of apologizing to the African-American community, Balch is intentionally ignoring their horrendous transgressions.
Instead of putting matters behind them, Balch is affirming their arrogant, out-of-touch, hubris.
And then Balch defenders wonder why the public and legal community are truly roaring with laughter.