Our local newspaper, the Sun Sentinel, published an article on the “Jewish American Bar Association.” If you’ve read my past posts (first here, then here, and then here), there is not much new in the story. However, for those who haven’t, I think it does a good job of introducing the issues.
First, I want to reiterate that when I first saw the bench, my initial visceral reaction, was that of a Jew. This was before I did any of the research into the “JABA,” or the law surrounding it. I made the reasonable assumption that the “Jewish American Bar Association” actually was, well, a Bar Association. I couldn’t understand why the “Jewish American Bar Association” would be telling people that they should be using Jewish lawyers only. Yes, it was telling. That’s the point of the exclamation point. If it was asking for people who “Prefer a Jewish Lawyer” there would be a question mark. I was taken aback that they’d be playing on ethnic stereotypes and potentially fostering hostility between Jewish lawyers and non-Jewish lawyers, I found whoever did it was “shockingly stupid.”
But once I did some research, I became far more offended as an attorney. Despite all of the “lawyer jokes” out there, I still believe that I am a member of a noble profession — one that has to maintain a level of integrity and a duty to the public at large. The “Jewish American Bar Association” wasn’t a real Bar Association, but just another for-profit referral service run by a non-lawyer, playing both upon racial stereotypes, and the public perception of what a “Bar Association” is.
At this point, I’m not interested in getting into more back and forth on this issue, although I may write more in a few days after I gather my thoughts.