One argument you sometimes hear in favor of making the jump from Biglaw to boutique is that small firms are, for lack of a better word, nicer. Everyone knows everyone else, so people treat each other with respect and even kindness. The hours are less brutal than at large law firms, and the overall environment is less impersonal and more friendly. The lawyers and staff at small firms are less focused on billable hours and the bottom line than their Biglaw counterparts.
At least that’s the conventional wisdom. But is it universally true? According to one current employee of Faruqi & Faruqi, the litigation boutique on the receiving end of an epic sexual harassment lawsuit, F&F is not exactly a “Fun & Fabulous” place to work.
And this person provided email messages from the two name partners to support their claims….
The Faruqi & Faruqi employee who provided us with these emails did so after reading the firm’s answer and counterclaims in the Marchuk v. Monteverde lawsuit. This individual disagreed with the firm’s claim that it offers “respectful treatment” to the people who work there.
The first email we’ll share with you was sent by Lubna Faruqi, one of the two name partners at the firm. It went out on October 29, 2012, the morning of Hurricane Sandy. Government officials were urging people to stay at home and stay safe. Mass transit was shut down. Significant areas of New York City were evacuated.
But Lubna Faruqi, this employee claims, was less focused on the safety of her employees and more focused on work getting done. Here’s her email (click to enlarge):
Lubna the Litigatrix sure knows how to crack the whip! There’s nice attention to detail in this email. Consider the first line (emphasis added): “If you are in fact working from home….” Because, you know, she’s on to your whole “working from home” thing; Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer isn’t the only one who’s figured that scam out.
And note the threatening final line: “If you are not in tomorrow, it will be considered a vacation day unless otherwise authorized.” This email doesn’t exactly ooze concern for employees staring down a hurricane (actually, a mere superstorm, no big deal). Nor does the message reflect the “respect for the individual” touted in the Faruqi answer and counterclaims.
Here’s the second email, from Lubna Faruqi’s brother and the other name partner of the firm, Nadeem Faruqi (again, click to enlarge):
NADEEM FARUQI!!! YOU SOUND LIKE ONE CHEAP BASS FISH!!! IMMEDIATE FIRING SOUNDS LIKE A HUGE OVERREACTION!!!
MAYBE YOU NEED SOME ANGER MANAGEMENT THERAPY!!! OR TO FIX YOUR CAPS LOCK KEY!!! IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We reached out to Faruqi & Faruqi to see if the firm had any comment on these emails. A spokesperson sent us this statement:
The memo regarding Hurricane Sandy was written on Monday, October 29, before the devastation that occurred in the evening. As a result of Hurricane Sandy, the office was closed on the following Tuesday and Wednesday. Any attorney or employee of the firm affected adversely by the storm was given paid leave, with those hardest hit given up to two weeks paid leave. No one was asked to take vacation time.
The second memo was written as a result of a mistake affecting a client. Although the firm regrets the tone, it was written during a heated moment and was sent to convey the seriousness of the mistake. The firm takes great pride in its commitment to its clients.