Biglaw, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Lateral Moves, Litigators, Litigatrix, Money, Partner Issues, Severance, Sexism, Sexual Harassment, Thompson & Knight

Dewey Know A Partner Whose Alleged Actions Led to a $400K ‘Severance Arrangement’?

Last week, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the American Lawyer all mentioned an unusual debt in the bankruptcy case of Dewey & LeBoeuf. A former D&L associate, Emily Saffitz, was listed as being owed $416,667 — a sum big enough to put her in the top 20 unsecured creditors of the firm. This was apparently due to a “severance arrangement.”

Why did Dewey agree to pay an associate from the class of 2006 more than $400K in severance? According to the Times, Saffitz received this severance agreement after she “complained over how she was treated by a former Dewey partner and told the firm’s management.” According to the Journal, she filed “a complaint regarding sexual discrimination by a Dewey partner who is no longer with the firm.”

Inquiring minds want to know: Who was the partner in question? And what did he allegedly say or do to Emily Saffitz?

Finding out such details is difficult. Settlements in cases of alleged sex discrimination or sexual harassment often contain non-disclosure or non-disparagement provisions that prevent the parties from speaking about what took place.

So we didn’t expect we would ever find out which former Dewey partner triggered complaints from Emily Saffitz. Until, well, he emailed us….

Multiple UPDATES, after the jump.

In the comments to our prior post about the Emily Saffitz situation, someone logged in as “Adam Kaiser” and posted this comment:

Partners should be able to act however they want to associates.

This comment was posted many hours after the original story went up, and there were already dozens of other comments on the story. We would never have noticed this one stray comment, quite frankly, if it wasn’t for an irate email we received from the personal email account of ex-Dewey partner Adam Kaiser (sent to our tips address at 9:06 p.m. on May 30):

Excuse me, but someone just posted a “comment” to you article on ATL today about Ms. Saffitz under my name. I am a former partner at Dewey. I did not leave a comment. I demand that you remove my name from your publication immediately.

I was at a dinner party, and therefore away from my computer, at the time this email came in. At 9:32 p.m., after not receiving a response, Kaiser emailed me directly:

Mr. Lat, this is Adam Kaiser, a partner at Winston and former partner at Dewey. Someone just posted a comment on ATL’s article about Ms. Saffitz in my name. I did not post any comment. I don’t know why anyone would do such a thing. There are some crazy people out there. In any event, I must respectfully demand that you remove the comment immediately. It gives the false impression that the comment was authored by me, which is simply absurd.

At 10:31 p.m., I replied to Adam Kaiser and cc’d the tips address (which goes to the four full-time writers here at Above the Law):

We’ll try to get this moderated as soon as we can. I’m not at a computer right now; I’m at a dinner.

Team: if anyone is by a computer, please handle. (Otherwise I’ll handle when I get home in a few hours.) Thanks.

This didn’t sit well with Kaiser. He emailed us at 10:32 p.m.:

Why isn’t anyone from ATL responding to me? You are maintaining on your website a quote attributed to me that I did not post. I demand it be taken down immediately. Feel free to call me at home: [redacted]. Every second it stays up on your website I am being damaged.

Kaiser emailed us again at 10:42 p.m., this time cc’ing Darryl Van Duch, a Winston spokesperson (who had, earlier in the evening, texted me on my personal cellphone to demand removal of the comment — presumably at Kaiser’s behest). From Kaiser’s 10:42 p.m. message:

David, respectfully, it needs to come down now, not a few hours from now. Some crazy associate is trying to damage my reputation.

I see a few moments ago another [comment] was made consisting of an email I sent out to litigation associates I think a year ago seeking volunteers for a weekend assignment. As assignment partner, I was not the most popular guy among some of the associates, especially the lazy ones and the LeBoeuf associates who were not accustomed to a strong assignment partner. Every second this remains on your website my reputation is being seriously damaged and it is encouraging other lunatics to make ridiculous posts. Someone from your operation ought to take this down now.

(That assignment email from Adam Kaiser, by the way, read as follows:

All, we have just been retained with respect to an urgent TRO matter. . . which will require immediate work (meaning tonight). We need a senior associate or counsel, a mid-level and a first or second year. I am prepared to call three people and instruct them to return to the firm to work on this, but I am first seeking volunteers who want their commitment and willingness to work hard noticed. Please email me. . . with your positive responses.

Seems reasonable enough to me. An assigning partner’s got to do what an assigning partner’s got to do, right? As they used to say over at Dewey & LeBoeuf, “Zieg Heil!”)

At 10:45 p.m., one of my colleagues removed the “Adam Kaiser” comments. We confirmed the removal by emailing Adam Kaiser, who sent his thanks.

But after the Kaiser comments were removed, this fresh comment appeared on the thread:

The one comment containing the name of the partner involved is removed, though the comment does not directly implicate the partner, but an entire line of comments maligning this girl… is left untouched.

So ATL can’t even let a commenter mention the partner’s name, but it solicits details regarding the terms of this girl’s severance package? …. Why protect him and subject her to this?

Good question: why did we protect Adam Kaiser and yet name Emily Saffitz, the alleged victim? Because we didn’t know, at the time we complied with Kaiser’s comment moderation request, that he had anything to do with L’Affaire Saffitz.

But now we do….

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