UPDATE: An associate at a Maine law firm has responded yet again in an open letter to the outcry to her comment the term ‘white privilege‘ is racist, made at a state bar event.
Leah Baldacci, an associate at Lipman & Katz in Augusta, had made the remarks at the end of a virtual online event organized by the Maine State Bar Association on Monday June 15.
Panelists included the Acting Chief Justice of Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court, Andrew Mead, Thaddeus Day, MSBA president, and Aria Eee, executive director of the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar.
During a question portion, she asked:”How can we perform this introspective look on racism without at the same time proclaiming that attorneys like myself have white privilege and making, what I find to be, racist remarks toward the white race?”
White privilege is normally a term used to describe the inherent advantage of being white, in a way of recognizing that it exists - often to the disadvantage of people of color. Studies have shown, for instance, that people of color are more likely to be detained, arrested, convicted, and receive harsher sentences in the criminal justice system - or have a resume overlooked between similarly suitable job applicants, get lower pay, or fewer promotions.
Ms. Baldacci later said she had been a victim of discrimination as a young female attorney, but “much more ... for being a Republican and for holding conservative values.” She described some of the criticism of her original comments at the MSBA event as “vulgar.“
The whole episode has been widely reported in Maine, but is now getting national attention in legal circles. Yet, Ms. Baldacci continues to stoke the flames by claiming victimhood.
In an open letter she also criticized former Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley, the new dean of Maine Law, the University of Maine's law school, for taking down her picture and details on the school's website. The six-page letter, published on Ms. Baldacci's LinkedIn profile on Monday June 22, can be read in full here in PDF format.
She also diverted from her original comments about race and talked mostly about sexual harassment of young female attorneys, quoting anonymous examples.
Her employer, Lipman & Katz, distanced itself from her original 'white privilege' remarks last week, saying they don’t reflect the views of the firm. Partner Roger Katz said they didn’t reflect his.
In her private capacity, Tina Nadeau, executive director of the Maine Association is Criminal Defense Lawyers and practicing attorney in Portland, called Ms. Baldacci’s original remarks - among other things - “shameful”, ”crazy”, and “gross.” On Friday June 19, the MSBA’s Mr. Day called the comments “unwelcome” and apologized in a video message for not addressing them earlier.
At the weekend Ms. Baldacci doubled down on her comments, posting in the business-orientated platform LinkedIn on Saturday, June 20: “When you accuse a group of people of ”White Privilege” you create no oxygen in the room for a discussion on how we can help make the world a better place.
“The phrase "White Privilege" is also, by definition, a racist comment — as it states that ALL white people are privileged and categorizes a whole race as guilty of bad faith.
“I will be sharing a series of videos that further discuss my position, which, although may not be the most popular position today, should still be considered and discussed as we move forward in today's climate.”