The firm of Dewey Ballantine was never known for being particularly PC. From a 2004 article by Anthony Lin, for the New York Law Journal:
Nearly one year after lawyers at Dewey Ballantine infuriated members of the Asian-American community by performing a stereotype-laden parody song at their annual dinner, the law firm is again dealing with allegations of racial insensitivity….
On Monday, an employee sent a firmwide e-mail advertising the availability of some puppies for adoption. Douglas Getter, a London-based American who heads Dewey Ballantine’s European mergers and acquisitions practice then sent a firmwide reply.
“Please don’t let these puppies go to a Chinese restaurant!” Getter wrote in his e-mail.
Now Dewey has merged with LeBoeuf Lamb. Happily, it appears their firm cultures are a good match. Check out this email exchange appearing below — and note that Partner X came from the LeBoeuf Lamb side of the marriage….
Former DLA Piper associate Charlene Morisseau isn’t just our Lawyer of the Day. This high-powered litigatrix — a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and a former editor of the Harvard Law Review — should be hailed as a heroine by Biglaw associates everywhere.
A Manhattan federal judge has thrown out a race discrimination suit brought against DLA Piper by a former associate who claimed the firm’s New York office was a hostile work environment.
Charlene Morisseau, a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was a law review editor, joined DLA Piper as a litigation associate in April 2003 but was asked to leave less than a year later. In a lawsuit filed last year, Ms. Morisseau, who is black, claimed her firing was retaliation for complaints she had made about discriminatory treatment.
She requested almost $250 million in damages from the firm and the 11 partners she individually named in the suit.
Now, we’re all in favor of giving associates more money. But $250 million may be a bit much, even for a Harvard Law grad. It’s about 90 percent of DLA Piper’s total firm profits for 2006 ($280 million).
But it looks like Morisseau won’t be seeing a dime:
Southern District Judge Lewis Kaplan granted summary judgment to the firm Monday, finding that DLA Piper had put forth a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff’s termination.”
“Here, the uncontradicted evidence demonstrates that plaintiff did not perform in a manner satisfactory to Piper notwithstanding her academic credentials,” the judge wrote. “She was a confrontational, stubborn, and insubordinate employee in an environment in which professional personal relations, flexibility and a willingness to accept supervision were essential.”
Now we’ve reached the good part. Here’s why Charlene Morisseau should be every associate’s idol:
[I]n court filings, DLA Piper denied treating Ms. Morisseau differently and said the firm had taken action because the ex-associate had exhibited a pattern of unacceptable behavior, including yelling at partners and throwing one out of her office.
The firm said Ms. Morisseau ordered former partner Marilla Ochis to “back up” out of her office after Ms. Ochis had come to discuss an e-mail exchange Ms. Morisseau had apparently taken offense to.
Have you ever fantasized about telling off your partner oppressors? Well, Charlene Morisseau has lived your dream — and then some.
It’s the Friday after Thanksgiving. The stock market is now closed — and so are we. We’ll be back with new posts on Monday, barring a surprise weekend announcement of “NY to 190.”
In the meantime, here’s some fodder for possible discussion, for the unfortunate few who are at work today (or were at work yesterday). From a reader:
I thought it might be interesting to get the best/worst stories from associates that had to work over the Thanksgiving holiday. I fortunately don’t have a terrible story to share that happened to me personally, but I have heard of bad things happening to others. For example, I heard of opposing counsel on the East Coast that scheduled a deposition on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, knowing that the counsel from California will likely have Thanksgiving plans torpedoed.
I also heard of a partner who told an associate that a party was moving for a TRO on the Monday following Thanksgiving. The associate worked on the case on Thanksgiving and the weekend. The associate later found out that the partner learned on Wednesday that the TRO was off-calendar, but the partner neglected to tell the associate — because the partner was preoccupied with getting out of the office for his own Thanksgiving plans.
These aren’t the greatest stories I realize, but I’m sure plenty of readers have some.
Have a tale of your own to tell? Please share it in the comments.
Happy Black Friday! And enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.
Judge Samuel B. Kent (S.D. Texas) joins Judge Elizabeth Halverson and Chief Judge Edward Nottingham in our Judge of the Day Hall of Fame. He will no longer be eligible for recognition as a Judge of the Day, having transcended this award.
Why is Judge Kent deserving of induction? In the Houston Chronicle, Lise Olsen offers a detailed report of the allegations against Judge Kent (which we previously discussed here and here). The money quote:
[Case manager Cathy] McBroom was summoned to the judge’s chambers on Friday, March 23, at about 3 p.m.
Her hands were full of legal papers when the judge — a former high school athlete who is more than 6 inches taller and at least 100 pounds heavier — asked for a hug.
She told him she didn’t think that was appropriate, but reluctantly approached.
The judge grabbed Mc-Broom, pulled up her blouse and her bra and put his mouth on her breast. Then, Kent forced her head down toward his crotch.
As McBroom struggled, Kent kept telling the married mother of three what he wanted to do to her in words too graphic to publish. The papers fell to the floor. The pet bulldog Kent kept in his chambers began to bark.
The incident was interrupted by the sound of footsteps from another staff member in the corridor, and the judge loosened his grip. As she left, the judge said McBroom was a good case manager and then made suggestions about engaging in a sexual act.
McBroom ran out crying.
Review additional allegations, including a claim by a different ex-employee that Judge Kent once told her he could “service me when my husband was being treated for prostate cancer,” by clicking here. How far did this federal judge go? [Houston Chronicle]
We enjoy keeping track of law firm screw-ups during the recruiting process. See, e.g., here and here.
But not everything that’s embarrassing is accidental; some tackiness is intentional. From a tipster:
“A friend of mine was recently rejected by Nixon Peabody. They broke the news by sending her the attached notice printed on an envelope-sized piece of cardboard.”
There’s news to report in the lawsuit filed by two female Yale Law School students over various allegedly defamatory and threatening comments posted about them on AutoAdmit.com. The amended complaint, which was delayed in arriving, has finally been filed. You can check it out here.
For some thoughts on the amended complaint by Professor Dave Hoffman, who has established himself as the expert on all things AutoAdmit-related, see here. As Hoffman notes, the most significant change is the dropping of Anthony Ciolli as a defendant.
In response to this news, Ciolli issued this statement:
I am pleased to see that the Plaintiffs have voluntarily dismissed me from this suit. Including me in the suit in the first place was legally unsupportable. I never posted a single defamatory or invasive statement. I told the plaintiffs that from the start, and I provided them with a sworn declaration to that effect.
Had I remained as a defendant, the only theory could have been rooted in a desire to overturn Section 230. As I was merely an employee of AutoAdmit, leaving me in the suit would have been akin to suing a Google employee for anything found on a web page hosted by that company – even if Google was not responsible for the content. The weakness of that theory was apparent to me from the beginning, as were the ramifications of its unlikely success — an explosion of liability for every internet service provider in America.
On some days, the posts just write themselves. From Blogonaut:
James Michael Shull is no longer a Virginia Judge, thanks to the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court that unanimously upheld his removal from the bench.
Shull’s misconduct on the bench included ordering a woman to pull down her pants in open court during a hearing—ostensibly to view a claimed injury—exposing everything not covered by a pair of g-string panties the woman was wearing.
If she was humiliated, she deserved it. What was she doing in a g-string? Everyone knows that acceptable courtroom attire is a sober black skirt suit — with granny panties underneath.
Schull also decided child custody matters by tossing a coin in the air, initiated ex-parte contact with witnesses outside the presence of the attorneys for either side in a dispute, and was discourteous to litigants.
We are not easily offended, nor are we very politically correct. Sometimes we write things that upset or antagonize people (sometimes intentionally, and sometimes not).
But this discussion of women lawyers, while certainly provocative, is a bit too inflammatory for our taste. We won’t post excerpts here (because finding a portion that isn’t offensive is difficult).
It’s generating discussion and making the rounds by email, however, and people have brought it to our attention. We’re passing it along for your consideration, so you can see what all the fuss is about. But please keep in mind that we agree with Jeff Jarvis’s linking philosophy: “A link is not necessarily an endorsement, but a way to say ‘you go judge for yourself.’” What A Girl’s Job Tells You [Roissy in DC]
Remember the lawsuit filed by two female Yale Law School students over various allegedly defamatory and threatening comments posted about them on AutoAdmit.com? The plaintiffs are in the process of amending their complaint, and they’ve sought extra time in which to do so. From a tipster:
[T]he third motion for an extension of time was requested October 4, and it asked for 30 days. I can’t imagine them going to a fourth motion, so the deadline should be fast approaching around this weekend.
That said… it appears from the first couple of motions they didn’t have any real leads and were still investigating, and now they may have a real lead.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.