The road to the courthouse is paved with bruised egos. And when the bruised egos belong to lawyers, it’s like hopping into the HOV lane on that road.

One lawyer has filed a suit against his former firm, alleging that they owe him compensation withheld after he let them know he was moving to a different firm.

It’s good to know that partners might get jerked around the same way as associates trying to leave before the bonuses are paid out….

Michael Molinaro, was once the co-chair of the bankruptcy practice at Loeb & Loeb. At some point, he negotiated an agreement with his former firm to transition from “partner” to “of counsel.” Molinaro claims that the firm agreed that this move would not impact his compensation.

But then, Molinaro did something that was sure to ruffle the feathers of his colleagues. He told them he was leaving to join Reed Smith, a firm willing to keep calling him a partner:

By February 2012, around the time Molinaro informed Loeb management that he intended to join the law firm Reed Smith, Loeb refused to provide him with the pay information and proposed a new compensation agreement, the lawsuit said.

Under the suggested pay arrangement, initially proposed on Jan. 23, Molinaro would only get paid in full for 2012 if he continued to work at Loeb “for many months,” the lawsuit said.

On Feb. 1, Loeb executive Scott Cotie wrote Molinaro that the firm was prepared to pay him $160,000 for 2012, but that he would only receive the sum if he signed the new pay arrangement, the lawsuit said.

Molinaro’s suit (UPDATE: A copy of the complaint is available here) seeks information about partner billing and compensation from Loeb & Loeb to allow Molinaro to calculate what he feels he should be paid. Loeb & Loeb describe the lawsuit as meritless.

This sounds lame, but how do lawyers not work this out in drafting the original agreement? As a partner, I’m sure there’s a natural inclination to trust your colleagues and assume you’re not about to get screwed because, technically, you own the company. But take a second and remember that you’re dealing with lawyers and draw upon the wisdom distilled in a choice quote from Futurama:

Friendship to me means that for two bucks I’d beat you with a pool cue until you got detached retinas.

Well put, “That Guy.”

Former Loeb Bankruptcy Lawyer Sues Law Firm Over Compensation [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]


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