As the Times of London noted, reactions of Above the Law commenters to Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell have been all over the map, “var[ying] from encouragement to contempt.” Some of you have hailed Charney as a hero, while others have attacked him vociferously (using terms we won’t repeat here).
But commenters aren’t necessarily representative of the larger readership. So we’d like to obtain a more accurate sampling of public opinion about this high-profile lawsuit. (If you need to read up on the case first, click here to access our past coverage.) Disclaimers: We are not social scientists. This poll is highly unscientific. The question is vague. Few of the facts about the case are known, and many are in dispute. Discovery has not yet commenced (and won’t start for a while).
But for what it’s worth, and based on what you currently know (or think you know), please take our reader poll:
It will take a while for Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell to pick up speed as a legal case. New York Supreme Court isn’t exactly a rocket docket. When we were in private practice, we worked on a New York Supreme Court case with a 1973 index number. That’s before we were born.
But on the public relations front, battle has been joined. Yesterday Sullivan & Cromwell sent us this statement, via S&C partner Theodore O. Rogers, Jr., in which the firm “categorically denie[d] Mr. Charney’s allegations of discrimination and retaliation.”
We contacted Aaron Charney, by email, to seek his response to the statement. What he wrote to us, plus a statement of his current employment status at the firm, after the jump.
The lawsuit filed by an openly gay associate against his prestigious law firm, Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, has been picked up by the mainstream media — big-time.
We expect that, after this rash of articles, the MSM will move on from this story. Rest assured, dear reader, that ATL will not.
We intend to cover the crap out of this case. If you have any information whatsoever about Aaron Charney, Sullivan & Cromwell’s treatment of gay lawyers, or related subjects, please email us. No detail is too small to escape our interest. If you shared your apple juice with Aaron Charney in kindergarten, we want to hear about it.
Okay. We have carefully read this morning’s coverage of the lawsuit by the New York Times, the New York Law Journal, and the Times of London — so you don’t have to. We’ve located the highlights, the juiciest details, and the money quotes.
The most notable news, as reported in the NYT and the NYLJ, is that Charney has been barred from the Sullivan & Cromwell offices while an internal investigation is underway. Considering the weirdness and tension that would have resulted otherwise, both Charney and the S&C partners are probably happy about his absence.
Excerpts and links to the full articles, after the jump (i.e., click on the “Continue reading” link below).
* Oh good, Cully says pro bono is ok again. [Washington Post; Washington Post (letter to the editor) via WSJ Law Blog]
* “Two things made Christopher Willever’s drunken burglary of a Tobacco Hut even worse as he crawled across the store floor — a lousy belt and his camera-loving backside.” [MSNBC]
* U.S. Attorneys’ increasing rate of attrition. [Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog (departures generally); WSJ Law Blog (Kevin Ryan)]
* Tennessee is tennetaxin’ illegal drugs. [Time]
* Time for new business cards and letterhead over at Wiley Rein & Fielding [Legal Times]
* The mystery raised here has been answered. Richard Posner isn’t the only federal government official who likes to blog. [Opinion Juris]
* Gay Sullivan & Cromwell partner David Braff, to the New York Times: “I’ve been openly gay since I arrived at this firm in 1984. There’s absolutely no atmosphere of hostility toward gay people here.”
[New York Times via DealBook]
* The fight over whether Judge Stephen S. Trott’s seat on the Ninth Circuit belongs to Idaho or California has been resolved — for now. [How Appealing]
As you learn on your first day of law school, there are two sides to pretty much every case (or rather, every interesting case, or any case worth including in a casebook).
It seems that Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell is no exception. In response to our email request for comment, we were contacted by S&C partner Theodore O. Rogers, Jr., a prominent and highly respected labor and employment litigator (pictured at right).
Mr. Rogers forwarded us a copy of this email, from the legendary H. Rodgin Cohen, Chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell (and a god of the banking M&A bar):
—–Original Message—– From: Cohen, H. Rodgin Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 2:56 PM To: *AllUsers.WorldWide Subject:
Today an associate of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Aaron Charney, filed a complaint against the Firm, representing himself, alleging discrimination and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation. Mr. Charney chose to post his Complaint on the greedyassociates.com web site before serving the Firm.
The Firm categorically denies Mr. Charney’s allegations of discrimination and retaliation. Mr. Charney first raised assertions of this sort in May 2006 through a lawyer, and his assertions were followed by a multi-million dollar demand. The Firm promptly investigated his assertions at that time, and rejected Mr. Charney’s money demand. Mr. Charney chose to remain associated with the Firm thereafter.
Sullivan & Cromwell is widely recognized as welcoming to all persons without regard to sexual orientation. We are proud of our record of hiring and advancement of individuals irrespective of their sexual orientation, as well as of our lawyers’ representation of organizations and individuals who protect the rights of individuals to be free from sexual orientation discrimination.
Shortly after we received Cohen’s email, we received this interesting message from a reader (who is not at S&C):
“I gotta say, I was suspicious of the pro se thing (and posting the complaint on his website) before your interview. He’s right that any competent employment counsel is going to try to quietly settle it. As a gay m&a attorney in nyc, I’m glad he is drawing attention to their behaviour, but if I were in his place I’d likely have retained counsel, settled for two years’ salary and moved on.”
“Do you think they will pay him more now to make him go away? On the one hand, they can’t terminate him now because it would be de facto retaliation but on the other hand it makes it more difficult for him to prove damages because he is still working there and continuing to get ‘big deals.’”
As we reported earlier today, Aaron Charney, an openly gay associate at Sullivan & Cromwell, is suing his firm for discrimination and retaliation. He filed his Complaint (PDF) in New York Supreme Court this morning. He alleges, among other things, that S&C partner Eric Krautheimer threw a document at his feet and told him to “bend over and pick it up — I’m sure you like that.”
Earlier this afternoon, we reached out to both Aaron Charney and a Sullivan & Cromwell spokesperson, by email. We haven’t heard back from S&C; but Charney did give us a call.
We interviewed Mr. Charney about his lawsuit against Sullivan & Cromwell, his continued employment at the firm, and related matters. He struck us as intelligent, earnest, fair-minded, and thoughtful. Also, he has a very nice speaking voice.
A summary of our interview with Aaron Charney appears after the jump.
Are you a gay law student or lawyer? Are you thinking about possibly working at the New York powerhouse law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell?
Before you apply to S&C, you might want to first check out this complaint, filed today in the New York Supreme Court (a trial court, despite the misleading name).
Allegations of discrimination against gays AND Canadians (there’s a difference); a headshot of the handsome plaintiff; and a link to the full complaint. All this and more awaits you, after the jump.
As you can see from the time of our first post of the day, we’ve been in front of our computer for about twelve hours. Our eyes hurt. And we’re hungry.
We need to stand up. Maybe we’ll be really daring and leave our apartment.
Hence this open comment thread. Some of the biggest Biglaws — Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Paul Weiss — have already announced their bonuses. But if Skadden comes along and blows the top off the bonus market while we’re gone, please post it in the comments (along with a link to your source).
We’ll follow up when we return. Thanks.
P.S. We realize this is unlikely. First, Skadden will probably do what everybody else has done, and match the market bonuses (as set last week by Milbank). Second, based on the buzz over at Greedy NY, it seems that a Skadden announcement will probablycometomorrow. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of bonuses (scroll down)
We have it on very, very good authority that Sullivan & Cromwell has issued associate bonuses that match the market. So consider the rumor from earlier today to be verified.
The only caveat from our source: at the most senior levels, the S&C bonuses do not “top out,” like those at Cravath. As explained by this Greedy NY post:
[A]t S&C there can be a high degree of variability at the highest associate levels, particularly (from what I’ve heard) for those who are told, “you didn’t make it this year, but we hope you’ll stick around and try again.”
But this is just a footnote, relevant only to the most senior of associates. The upshot is that S&C has matched.
So the fat lady has probably sung. At this point, it’s unlikely that anyone will go above market. If any firm was going to top the market, S&C was a good candidate. From a different Sullivan source, who opined yesterday:
I highly doubt we’ll be doubling [as ridiculously rumored by Ritalin Edge]. But I think the general feeling (despite our salary raise) is that there will be mutiny if they match last year’s bonuses. This is especially true given Goldman’s record year and our record M&A year.
Mutiny? Sullivan & Cromwell associates, sharpen those pitchforks. It’s time to storm the barricades at 125 Broad Street. Update: Actually, nix that. The S&C folk are perfectly pleased with their holiday haul:
I think everyone is happy with our bonuses. Any grumblings I heard a few months ago about how great our year is have been replaced with elation at how big our bonuses are.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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