Aaron Charney, Arthur Leonard, Biglaw, Gay, Lavi Soloway, Media and Journalism, WSJ Law Blog

Brokeback Lawfirm: A Settlement Linkwrap

Aaron Charney Sullivan Cromwell settlement Above the Law blog.jpgThe celebrated case of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell was fun while it lasted. As we mentioned last night, the fun is over: the parties have reached a settlement.
But the case was good to us — and we intend to give it a proper sendoff, with several post-mortem posts. If you have any info or gossip about the case that you’d be willing to share, please email us.
This post is the obligatory linkwrap. We’ve collected and read various reactions to the settlement news, so you don’t have to.
Links and excerpts, after the jump.

The news was broken last night by Anthony Lin, in the New York Law Journal. A few hours later, we put up a post.
Today brings a raft of reactions and MSM coverage. Here are links and highlights:
1. Report: Sullivan & Cromwell Settles With Aaron Charney [WSJ Law Blog]

So what becomes of Charney’s legal career? In the New York magazine story, Charney didn’t rule out the possibility of working at S&C again. Asked for that story what he’ll do next, he said he didn’t know. “In an ideal world, this would run its course, the people who have done something wrong would be punished, and the firm would take steps to change the environment,” he said. “I would come back and return to my career.”

2. Sullivan & Cromwell Settles Gay Bias Suit [DealBook / New York Times]

As it wore on, the legal battle seemed to descend into the bizarre. The court found that Mr. Chaney had destroyed the hard drive of his private computer — by boiling it and bashing it with a hammer. Mr. Charney said that he was intimidated into doing so during a settlement meeting on the case.

3. Sullivan settles gay discrimination claim [TheLawyer.com]
4. Charney & Sullivan Reach Settlement [Leonard Link (Arthur Leonard)]
Professor Leonard suspects the settlement was large:

A settlement had been expected, because few thought that Sullivan & Cromwell really wanted to expose their partners to being deposed on the record in this case, much less to testify in open court. S&C’s attempts to get rid of the case through motions to dismiss having proved unsuccessful, a settlement was in the cards. Now the question that everybody will be asking is…. will Aaron Charney ever have to work again?

5. Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell Kiss and Make-Up, Or At Least Agree To Settle Their Claims [Keeping Up With Jonas]
Jonas disagrees with Professor Leonard about the size of the settlement:

The settlement terms are confidential. Though some are predicting a big payday for Charney, I’m more skeptical of a huge payout. Sure, Charney got enough to pay his lawyers and probably be happy for a year or two. But this case is different from most employment discrimination cases in that here, Sullivan & Cromwell had a viable counter-suit against Charney. In exchange for dropping the counter-suit, Charney likely had to give up a decent portion of any settlement. Also likely knocking the settlement down was the court’s recent dismissal of Charney’s Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Conspiracy claims. Plus, Charney had a lot of hungry lawyer mouths to feed.

Good point. Charney had two law firms working on the discrimination case for him — Alterman & Boop and Eisenberg & Schnell — as well as criminal defense lawyer Michael Kennedy.

The question remains, how long before a certain someone mysteriously leaks the confidential settlement agreement to the Wall Street Journal?

(Hey Aaron — leak it to us instead! S&C won’t be as mad if you send the info to a mere blog, as opposed to a distinguished MSM outlet.)
6. Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell Reach Settlement in Gay Discrimination Law Suit [Lavi Soloway]
As Lavi Soloway notes, the settlement raises more questions than it answers:

For those of us who have followed this case closely, news of a settlement, while not particularly surprising, still leaves many issues unresolved. The tangled web of this case continued through the course of litigation with high-priced lawyers on both sides armed with stunning charges. Those charges, if true, described desparate measures taken by a venerable firm determined to preserve its reputation as an employer committed to diversity.

S&C had indeed supported gay causes by charitable donations and pro bono representation. Still S&C was never able to extinguish the constant flow of bad publicity, as one incredible story after another emerged.

Was a false affidavit executed to cover up for the destruction of notes taken by former S&C associate Gera Grinberg during a confidential settlement meeting? Was former S&C associate Ed Gallion, who had been hired by S&C to represent Grinberg, accurately quoted as telling Charney and Grinberg that he believed he (Gallion) did not make partner at S&C because he was gay? Why did S&C settle? Is it because at least one partner had sided throughout with Charney, and they wanted to prevent his deposition and future testimony in court?

The Charney case had been a public relations nightmare from the start, but previous efforts to settle only seemed to add fuel to the fire. Did an S&C partner refer to the firm’s prior representation of the Nazis and threaten to “crush” Aaron Charney in an effort to intimidate him? So many words have been written about this case, but a settlement assures us that the key players will never be required to testify under oath. The truth here will not be known.

Unless someone leaks it. You know where to reach us.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)

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