We bring you two interesting updates on our friends at Kirkland & Ellis — one important, and one silly.
Let’s start with the trivial, and work our way up. First, from a tipster:
The balkanization of Kirkland & Ellis continues. Why should an “informal, visible network for attorneys to exchange ideas, provide support, and develop relationships” be based on race and/or sexual orientation? What’s next, separate cafeterias and drinking fountains?
A recent email from The Kirkland & Ellis LLP Diversity Committee reads:
Kirkland & Ellis Diversity Networking Forums (Chicago Office)
On behalf of the Diversity Committee, I am proud to announce a new addition to our diversity programming, Diversity Networking Forums. The main purpose of the Diversity Networking Forums is to provide an informal, visible network for attorneys to exchange ideas, provide support, and develop relationships. There will be four Diversity Networking Forums:
Asian Diversity Networking Forum
Black Diversity Networking Forum
Hispanic/Latino Diversity Networking Forum
GLBT Diversity Networking Forum
The Diversity Networking Forums are open to all Chicago Kirkland attorneys. If you are interested in becoming a part of any of these forums, please email Attorney Training and Development at [xxxx] by February 8 and indicate which forums you would like to join.
Note that the forums are “open to all.” We wonder if that language was added to avoid a psuedo-controversy like the one over K&E’s big gay party. We also wonder why you’d join one of these networking forums if you weren’t a member of the group in question. But see “fag hags” signing up for the LGBT group.
Okay, on to the second update. Perhaps in an effort to avoid an Aaron Charney debacle — or, on a smaller scale, a Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy or a Morisseau v. DLA Piper — K&E has enacted a mandatory employment arbitration policy, applicable to all associates. From a tipster:
Kirkland just sent a memo to all of its associates, which they had to sign, reminding them that they were at will employees, and telling them they had to agree to arbitrate any employment dispute. Apparently a response to Charney-gate.
If you’re interested — perhaps you’re a labor and employment lawyer, or a Biglaw partner looking to foist such a policy on the associates at your own firm — check out the memo, after the jump.
KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP — MEMORANDUM — EMPLOYMENT ARBITRATION POLICY — ASSOCIATES
All of us are aware of the high costs and delays when disputes are resolved by litigating in the courts. Increasingly, employers and employees in small and large companies, including law firms, are finding that the use of internal dispute resolution techniques (IDR), such as arbitration, is mutually beneficial in resolving disputes that are not solved through internal grievance procedures. Certainly, most problems are solved through discussions with a supervisor, manager or a Kirkland & Ellis Human Resources representative. However, where these procedures do not produce a satisfactory result, the employee’s only recourse has been to turn to the courts. The litigation process, however, has some disadvantages, including:
1. The process is adversarial
2. It is costly
3. It is time-consuming
[Ed. note: Oh, the irony! You'd expect K&E to be a little more positive about litigation, since it's one of their leading practice areas (and how they make a lot of their money). Last month, the American Lawyer named Kirkland its Litigation Department of the Year.]
To address these issues, we are announcing that Kirkland & Ellis LLP (the “Firm” or “K&E”) is implementing an alternative dispute resolution program to cover disputes between the Firm and employees, as well as certain work-related disputes between employees. We believe this program will provide a more efficient means to resolve disputes that cannot otherwise be resolved internally.
The Policy provides that any dispute that cannot be resolved internally must be submitted to arbitration with a neutral arbitrator jointly selected by the parties. The arbitrator will hear the dispute with both sides having a full opportunity to be heard, and will render a decision which is binding on the parties. The American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) has been chosen as the administrator of this program. The AAA is a not-for-profit national organization, recognized as a leading supplier of dispute resolution services. It is independent and impartial. An employee who initiates arbitration will pay the first twenty-five dollars ($25) of the required AAA administrative fee, and K&E will pay the remaining portion of the fee and all fees and costs of the arbitrator . If arbitration is initiated by K&E, then K&E will pay 100% of the required AAA administrative fee and all fees and costs of the arbitrator.
We are implementing the attached K&E Employment Arbitration Policy effective April 1, 2008. The Policy is mandatory and will govern all covered disputes involving U.S. employees who accept or continue their employment with K&E as of that date. Please take the time to review the Policy carefully. Once you have done so, indicate your review by clicking the “Acknowledge” button at the bottom of this email. Please provide your acknowledgment no later than Monday, March 3, 2008.
In the future, K&E employees can access the most recent version of the policy in the K&E Policy Manual located on K&EConnect.
Please review the attached instructions for accessing the K&E Policy Manual. If you have any questions about the Policy, please contact [xxxx] or [xxxx].
I hereby acknowledge that I have received the Firm’s Employment Arbitration Policy and instructions for accessing the K&E Policy Manual on K&EConnect, which houses the policies and guidelines affecting my employment with Kirkland & Ellis LLP. I also recognize that, as of April 1, 2008, the attached Employment Arbitration Policy will be in full effect for all U.S. employees who accept or continue their employment with K&E as of that date. I understand that I am responsible for familiarizing myself with and abiding by the Employment Arbitration Policy and all other Firm policies and will seek verification or clarification of terms or guidance where necessary. Furthermore, I acknowledge that neither individual policies, nor the policy manual, is a contract of employment and nothing in the K&E Policy Manual creates an express or implied contract of employment.
Litigation Department of the Year: Kirkland & Ellis [American Lawyer]