Big law leader Davis Polk has withdrawn job offers from three law students at Harvard and Columbia due to their suspected involvement with contentious pro-Palestinian letters critical of Israel.
The decision by the firm underscores the growing professional consequences faced by students who have expressed support for Palestinians in the wake of the October 7th attack by Hamas on Israel.
A spokesperson from Columbia Law School confirmed that two of their students had their offers from Davis Polk rescinded, and the firm is currently reconsidering these revocations.
In an internal email, Davis Polk’s managing partner, Neil Barr, publicly shared his reasoning for the rescissions, stating that the statements made were “contrary to our firm’s values.”
Barr also noted that the firm is in discussions with two of the affected students to consider any additional information they may provide.
NBC News confirmed the authenticity of the email with a representative from the firm. The New York Times reported that Davis Polk rescinded offers to three students but is reevaluating the decision for two of them.
According to the Times, two of the students have contested their dismissals, asserting that they did not authorize the letters, which lacked individual signatories.
A representative of Davis Polk pointed to a statement that was included in the email: “The views expressed in certain of the statements signed by law school student organizations in recent days are in direct contravention of our firm’s value system. For this reason and to ensure we continue to maintain a supportive and inclusive work environment, the student leaders responsible for signing on to these statements are no longer welcome in our firm; and their offers of employment have thus been rescinded.”
Winston & Strawn, had revoked a job offer from a New York University law student the previous week. This student had written that “Israel bears full responsibility” for Hamas’ attack on Israel in an online publication for a student bar association.
In a broader context, recent events include a truck circling Harvard’s campus, displaying the names and faces of students allegedly affiliated with groups that had endorsed a letter supporting Palestinians.
On Oct. 10, The Harvard Crimson, one of the university’s student-run news publications, reported that more than 30 Harvard student groups signed on to a letter that said they held Israel “entirely responsible” for “all unfolding violence” in the conflict, which came after a surprise Hamas attack on Israel killed over 1,300 people.
Since the letter was published, a number of the CEOs, business leaders and a federal judge have responded by cutting ties with the university, calling for the identifications of students involved with the letter or saying they would not hire the students involved.
Additionally, several CEOs, including Harvard alumnus and billionaire Bill Ackman, had called on the university to disclose the names of individuals in student organizations who signed the letter.