We’ve already shown you what it looks like when an associate gets laid off from a law firm. It’s not pretty.
What does it look like when a law firm fires — or tries to fire — a partner?
Well, that is even uglier….
We have reprinted below an email message that was sent to a partner at a major — i.e., Am Law 100 / Vault 100 — law firm. Some quick comments:
- We have not included the name of the partner or the firm in question. Please keep it that way in the comments.
- This email contains allegations, nothing more, and we take no position on the truth or falsity of said allegations. We are merely acting as a conduit for the email.
- As reflected in the final paragraph, this email was sent as a prelude to possible termination. We don’t know whether the partner in question was actually terminated, whether he left voluntarily after receiving this missive, or whether some other course of events unfolded.
- As is often the case with scandalous or quasi-scandalous material on Above the Law, there is a lesson to be learned. Today’s lesson: don’t use your work email account for anything improper, and always assume that it might be monitored — even if you’re a partner.
Although this email is a few years old, it offers a fascinating glimpse inside the partnership ranks. If you have similarly interesting emails you’d like to share — especially if they’re dated, and therefore less sensitive — you know where to reach us.
Sent: Mar 31, [Redacted] 5:51 PM
Subject: Partnership Communication
[Redacted] and I are writing to you in our capacities as [redacted]. A number of matters have come to our attention in the last several days that have raised sufficient concerns to cause us to believe that there is a need to present to the Management Committee of the firm and, if directed by the Management Committee, to the Equity Partners a request that you be immediately terminated as an Equity Partner of the firm with cause pursuant to Section [Redacted] of the partnership agreement.
Among the matters which we have seen expressly documented in e-mails you have sent are the following:
* Your use of the firm e-mail system to arrange and participate in activities that seemingly involve the procurement and use of illicit drugs, including cocaine. This conduct, if established, raises issues of criminal culpability on your part and obviously amounts to conduct likely to discredit or injure the reputation of the firm.
* Purported threats by you of physical violence directed at firm personnel. Again, this conduct, if established, is potentially criminal and, in any event, warrants your termination with cause under the relevant partnership provisions.
* Engaging in racial, ethnic and gender-directed slurs using the means of the firm e-mail system and identifying you as a partner of the firm in making the statements. Again, this conduct by a partner of the firm, if established, is abhorrent and likely to discredit or injure the reputation of the firm.
* Conducting negotiations for obtaining another business affiliation using firm resources, including the firm e-mail system, and otherwise communicating about the firm in violation of your fiduciary duties to the firm.
Our investigation of these matters is continuing and, given the tenor of the above, we may find the need to add to the grounds for seeking your expulsion.
We will advise you if that occurs.
Given the nature of the foregoing violations, we hereby request that you immediately cease all aspects of the above conduct, cease your use of firm resources for any of the foregoing purposes, and cease all other conduct that bears any connection to the firm that is or may be viewed as unlawful. As to the latter we expressly disclaim on behalf of all firm personnel any obligation to advise you as to your possible criminal exposure, and you should realize that any statements you make to anyone affiliated with the firm about those matters will be unprivileged and may be subject to inquiry by law enforcement officials. We also hereby instruct you for the time being not to come onto firm property without prior arrangement and advance permission arranged through [Redacted]. Further, if you need files or other materials from your office, you should arrange for delivery of those through [Redacted].
As noted above, given the extreme seriousness of these issues, our intention is to raise all of these matters and the evidence we believe supports them with the Management Committee shortly after the weekend. We are prepared to meet with you before proceeding and are available to do so tomorrow, [Redacted], in advance of your planned travel. If you wish immediately to tender your resignation with an effective date no later than the end of business on [Redacted], that would foreclose the need to proceed as outlined above. That is, in our view, your decision to make.
[Redacted] and [Redacted]