I am a workers’ compensation attorney for the state of Illinois. I’m also Jewish.
For some, this will be a weird post, but there are others that need some education.
I get calls all the time from people who are looking for my recommendation of a good attorney. That’s why I created a state wide network, so you can get the best work comp attorney for your case.
But some of these people will tell me they want a Jewish attorney or ask if the person I’m recommending is Jewish. I try not to jump to conclusions so I’ll ask the caller why they want that. I usually here something along the lines of “Jewish attorneys are really aggressive” or “Jewish attorneys like to get the most money.”
Most of this comes from ignorance or inexperience in dealing with people from other religions. If all you know is the antisemitism you were taught or from what you read on the internet, you might not know any better. But usually it’s bigotry and I find it shocking how many people feel this way.
I grew up in the Chicago area, but went to college in a small town in Ohio. I still remember my freshman orientation meeting someone who told me that they “never met a real live Jew before.” That guy turned out to be a super nice person, but was a victim of his upbringing.
My response when I get these questions is to let the caller know that what they are saying is offensive and to explain why. It’s no different than making a racist statement based on stereotypes about Asians, African Americans, Christians, Muslims or any other group.
I can tell you from 23 years of experience that there are great and terrible lawyers of every religion, race, gender, etc. Some embody the best stereotypes, some the worst. This is not like saying you want a female attorney or Spanish speaker because you would be more comfortable with them or it would be easier to communicate. The request for a Jewish attorney is usually offensive whether well intentioned or not.
That’s my rant for the day. One thing I’ve learned as a person in 2020 is that it’s not enough to not just be against racism and bigotry, but you must also be anti-racist and anti-bigotry. I’ll be back to talking about every day work comp issues in my next post. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.