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A group of about 20 Harvard Law School students picketed the school's placement office and argued with Law School administrators yesterday afternoon to protest the recruiting efforts of a Boston law firm.
The students charged that Ropes and Gray-the City's largest firm and Harvard's official lawyers-has "long been involved in [the] exploitation" of U. S. coal miners. Some protestors also accused the firm of discriminating against women in its hiring and promotion practices.
Ernest J. Sargeant '40, a managing partner of the firm and one of two partners who were recruiting yesterday, refused to comment on the charges last night.
Ropes and Gray has 42 partners and 40 associates. Seven of the associates are women.
Sargeant also refused to speak to the demonstrators shortly after noon yesterday. "We're here to interview people who want to be employed," he said later, "not those who don't want to be employed."
After marching through Harkness Commons, the students met for more than an hour with Derek C. Bok, dean of the Law School, and vice dean William L. Bruce '46.
The protestors insisted that firms which recruit at the Law School should be required to answer questions about their practices at a public meeting.
Under present policy, the Law School will offer the use of its facilities to prospective recruiters for such a meeting if any group of students requests one, according to Richard H. Field '26, professor of Law and chairman of the school's Placement Committee. But Bok told the students he opposed making such a meeting a condition of recruiting at the Law School.
A leaflet distributed by the protestors said that Ropes and Gray accepted "diseased money" by representing coal mining companies that "have chosen not to adopt effective methods of controlling" dangerous coal dust in their mines.
The firm serves as general counsel to Eastern Coal and Fuel Associates, a Boston company that owns a large West Virginia mining concern.
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