|Joel Gilbert and Chase Espy|
Officials at Birmingham's Balch & Bingham law firm have spoken in recent years of plans to expand its footprint in the Southeast -- and it appears to have happened, but not in the way the firm's "big dogs" had planned. Balch now holds the distinction of having two former attorneys with "footprints" in the federal prison system, according to a report at banbalch.com, which operates under the CDLU public charity and advocacy group. For good measure, both incarcerated attorneys had represented scandal-plagued Southern Company. All in all, it's "a public-relations nightmare from hell" for a law firm that operates in a profession where reputation is of prime importance. If Balch has a PR expert on staff, or on retainer, that person faces the monumental task of trying to paint a pretty face on an ugly picture.
Writes K.B. Forbes, publisher of the Ban Balch blog and CEO of the CDLU, under the headline "Ex-Balch & Bingham Attorneys are Now Federal Prison Inmates 04104-510 and 35504-001":
Convicted pedophile and ex-Balch & Bingham attorney Chase T. Espy is now inmate 04104-510 at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, while ex-Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert, convicted of money laundering and bribery in the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, is inmate 35504-001 at the Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery, Alabama.
Balch has boasted these past five-years of expanding their footprint in the Southeast, and now the embattled firm can add two convicted felons in Atlanta and Montgomery.
Both convicted felons represented Southern Company, one of Balch’s top clients currently in the middle of a sex and accounting scandal.
With only 2 percent of Balch partners being people of color, the alleged racist law firm’s partners are 98 percent white while their esteemed convicts are 100 percent white.
So desperate to hide their racist and segregationist past, and links to Governor George Wallace and a Ku Klux Klan highway-funds scandal, Balch recently added its Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer on the firm's professionals list of attorneys and lobbyists, even though she is not involved in any practice area of law does not participate in government relations.
Why are no other Balch officers listed in such a manner? Forbes provides the answer:
Neither the Chief Operating Officer, Director of Human Resources, Director of Finance, Director of Client and Community Engagement, Chief Information Officer, nor the Chief Marketing Officer.
Could it be because that they are all white?
Tokenism. Tokenism of partners. Tokenism of attorneys. And now tokenism of management officers on their website.
But then again Balch managing partner Stan Blanton is collecting make-believe awards for diversity and inclusion.
And then the firm's lawyers wonder why others are laughing.