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Law school sued for alleged bias

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | AUGUST 24, 2009 7:05 AM

A seasoned immigration attorney has sued the UI College of Law, alleging that officials refused to hire him purely because of his age.

Donald Dobkin of West Bloomfield, Mich., was 55 years old when he applied for the position soon after it was advertised in August 2008. He asserts that the administration passed him over in favor of younger but less-qualified candidates.

UI spokesman Tom Moore refused to comment, citing the UI’s policy on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit filed Aug. 19, Dobkin responded to an advertisement seeking a professor with interests including administrative and immigration law. Dobkin e-mailed the UI in January asking for the status of his application.

Court records show the next day, Eric Andersen, an associate dean of the law school, told Dobkin he would not be hired in spite of his “impressive academic and professional record.”

Andersen, the chairman of the faculty appointments committee, could not be reached for comment.

Dobkin has worked mainly as an immigration lawyer since graduating from Northwestern University School of Law in Illinois in 1976. He was the president and founding member of Michigan’s “largest independent immigration law firm” for 25 years, according to his résumé.

As an adjunct professor at Central Michigan University, Dobkin has also taught courses such as Administrative Law and the Regulatory Process and International Law.

The job offer went to two men under age 40, though neither had legal experience in private practice. Dobkin alleges that officials’ insistence that the two were the most qualified for the position was a pretext; he believes his knowledge of administrative and immigration law is “substantially greater” than that of the other candidates.

In the end, neither of the men took the offer. They currently teach at Indiana University and the University of California-Irvine.

According to the lawsuit, the UI College of Law hasn’t hired a person over the age of 40 for a professor position in more than 10 years.

Dobkin’s discrimination suit is not the only recent case to hit the law school. In January, Teresa Wagner also sued the school, alleging she was rejected for a full-time position because of her political affiliations.


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