Let’s get real about Munger Tolles’s mandatory arbitration controversy. Or, put differently, will we see Munger Tolles partners lobbying for passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act?

As you may know, the Munger Tolles law firm has backtracked on its effort to force summer associates to sign mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration agreements with the firm. Given the "me too" movement, the firm certainly had a PR problem on its hands. As this article by Meghan Tribe explains:

Munger, Tolles & Olson reacted swiftly Sunday afternoon after news of the inclusion of a mandatory arbitration agreement for its summer associates emerged via Twitter less than 24 hours before. “In this case, we were wrong, and we are fixing it,” said a March 25 statement from Munger Tolles posted to the firm’s Twitter account. … The leaked agreement required that Munger Tolles summer associates arbitrate all employment-related claims, including those that fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which includes sexual harassment.

Munger Tolles says the firm was “wrong” to shove mandatory pre-dispute arbitration down the throats of its employees. No question.

So, why isn’t it similarly wrong (or far worse) for MT's corporate clients, who presumably MT would defend in shoving mandatory pre-dispute arbitration down the throats of low-wage workers and consumers –- all of whom have less bargaining power than law students who get offers from MT? 

Presumably MT's lawyers, like other corporate lawyers, advise their clients to take advantage of favorable Supreme Court case law by employing mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration clauses.

So let's be clear about what's going on here. MT said what it had done was “wrong,” and, by that, the firm meant morally “wrong.”  But MT's corporate clients think mandatory arbitration is a good thing when it's forced on poor people and others with little bargaining power.

So, does MT think that mandatory arbitration is a bad thing for some of us, and a good thing for others of us? Or does it think that mandatory arbitration is a bad thing for everyone, but would help support its use against consumers and law-wage workers only when the firm's clients insist? If the latter, will MT partners, as private citizens, lobby Congress to pass the Arbitration Fairness Act

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