From the court’s perspective, the term ‘babe’ is at best undignified and at worst degrading. Regardless, there are people in our society who view ‘babe’ as playful flattery … To the chagrin of those in our society hoping to leave sexual stereotypes behind, some of those people are female. And some of those people may be among the plaintiffs.
– Judge Nelson Johnson, granting the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s motion for summary judgment in an underlying dispute in which female cocktail servers, known as the Borgata Babes, were prohibited from gaining more than seven percent of their body weight after they were hired.
When it comes to equal opportunities in the workplace, women working in law firms have an especially raw deal. In most cases, men are the top earners, and they’re given more chances to bring in business than their female counterparts. Some claim that male lawyers have even gone so far as to purposely exclude women from client pitches and after-work bonding activities.
These observations aren’t new; women have been getting the shaft for decades in the good ol’ boys’ club we call the practice of law. But one law firm allegedly went a step further to shut out its female employees.
Deep in the heart of Texas, a female partner claims that men and women at her firm weren’t even allowed to work in the same room alone together with the door closed….
UPDATE (4/12/2013, 5:00 p.m.): Now with a statement from the firm, posted after the jump.
Take this famous line and replace “man” with “law firm partner,” and you’ve captured the gist of the lawsuit against Ropes & Gray brought by Patricia Martone, who alleges age and sex discrimination by her former firm. (Martone, a former IP litigation partner at Ropes, is now a Morrison & Foerster partner.)
When I broke the news of this lawsuit back in 2011, I expected a speedy settlement. Would Ropes really want to go toe to toe with a pair of high-powered litigatrices, namely, Martone and her formidable employment lawyer, Anne Vladeck?
But here we are, two years later, and the battle rages on. Ropes has hired a third leading litigatrix to defend itself. Let’s learn the latest news….
(Note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)
You know what’s the mark of a good lawsuit against a law firm? The ability to polarize. Sure, it’s fun to laugh at the wacky ones, like Berry v. Kasowitz Benson or Morisseau v. DLA Piper. But the true classics are cases in which half the people think the plaintiff is a crusader for justice, and half the people think the plaintiff is an extortionist.
Take the 2007 lawsuit of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, brought by a young M&A lawyer claiming anti-gay discrimination. That was a great lawsuit. Some readers saw it as a Philadelphia for the 21st century, while others saw it as a shameless shakedown of a top law firm.
By this standard, Levinson v. WilmerHale is a good lawsuit. Readers can’t seem to agree on this one. Let’s check out the sharply divided opinions — and also hear more about Pamela Levinson, from former colleagues at the firm….
Today brings news of another employment discrimination lawsuit filed against another top law firm. It’s being filed by the litigation boutique of Sanford Heisler LLP, which seems to be carving out a nice little niche in plaintiff-side Biglaw employment litigation.
Which firm is being sued this time, and what are the plaintiff’s allegations?
We offer a lot of coverage of lawyers suing their law firms. They’re almost always the same: lawyer is fired; lawyer finds something to sue the employer over. Sometimes the lawyer’s claims have merit; sometimes they don’t.
It’s a little more rare for a law professor to sue his or her law school. That’s probably because it’s much harder for a law professor to be fired or pushed out. Oftentimes you only see lawsuits from professors when they feel like they’ve been unfairly denied tenure. After they get tenure, well, there’s little the law school can do to them anyway.
Well, unless the school concludes that a professor “poses a safety risk,” to the students at the law school. Then, the professor can be suspended.
And then, much like a lawyer in private practice, the law professor will sue the school….
Women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to upward mobility in their careers. Despite the fact that firms claim to be rectifying these inequities, for every two steps forward the legal industry takes, women seem to be pushed two steps back. Be it smaller salaries or fewer leadership opportunities, women lawyers are usually left holding the bag. It’s almost as if they’ve got to make up for what they lack (dangling genitalia), in all of their dealings.
Women already have a hard enough time as it is without being unfairly subjected to unspoken policies that affect both firm politics and partnership decisions. But, such is life when you’ve thrust yourself into the wonderful world of Biglaw, where the “boys club” reigns supreme, and women are essentially railroaded into the pink ghetto.
How would you like to work for a firm where men hog all of the origination credit, and do their damnedest to exclude women from client pitches? How would you like to work for a firm where women are encouraged to have intimate relationships with firm leaders in order to be promoted?
That doesn’t sound like a friendly working environment, but that’s exactly what a $200 million class action suit against Greenberg Traurig alleges….
* BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 charges and pay $4.5B in fines, but before going through with it, several Biglaw firms helped the company sell off assets to fund litigation- and spill-related costs. [Am Law Daily]
* According to HBR Consulting, compensation for in-house attorneys has risen over the past year — including bonuses, which went up to $62,500. Sorry, but Biglaw isn’t following suit. [Corporate Counsel]
* It’s better to leave well enough alone: Pryor Cashman was ordered to pay more than $21K in legal fees for filing a frivolous motion over its repeated attempts to dismiss a case. [New York Law Journal]
* Judge Susan McDunn, who claimed that her “life [was] being ruined” by the secret lawsuits of many powerful Chicagoans, has resigned. Looks like her $182K salary wasn’t enough to buy crazy pills. [Chicago Tribune]
* According to a CNN poll, 67 percent of people who watched the debate thought Mitt Romney won, while only 25 percent thought Barack Obama won. Well, either way you slice it, there was definitely one loser: poor old Jim Lehrer. [CNN]
* If Barack Obama could’ve had his way, he would’ve put Osama bin Laden on trial to display American due process and the rule of law. We suppose that now he’ll just have to take credit for being the man who ordered the kill shot. [WSJ Law Blog]
* A handful of Biglaw firms advised on the T-Mobile and MetroPCS merger, but Telecommunications Law Professionals, a boutique firm, showed up to prove it could hang with the big boys. [DealBook / New York Times]
* From boutique to Biglaw? Joseph Bachelder, an executive compensation expert, shuttered his 10-lawyer firm in favor of joining McCarter & English as special counsel in New York. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Remember Ellen Pao, the former Cravath associate who sued Kleiner Perkins for sex discrimination? She now claims that the VC firm fired her. Of course, like everything else, KPCB denies it. [Bits / New York Times]
* A J.D. isn’t a hoax, but if law schools keep admitting huge classes, the degree will become one. The dean of UC Hastings Law thinks law schools should’ve reduced their class sizes a long time ago. [Huffington Post]
You often hear about women filing gender discrimination complaints that allege sexual harassment by lecherous male superiors. It’s less often that you’ll see a man making similar allegations against a woman. But it just so happens that someone in the federal government has lodged these very complaints against a female superior, and boy is his complaint juicy.
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, James T. Hayes Jr., a top-level Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, is suing the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security because he claims that ICE’s chief of staff, Suzanne Barr, created a hostile working environment — specifically, “a frat house-type atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees.”
What does one have to do to create a “frat house-type atmosphere” in the offices of a federal agency? Let’s check out the allegations made in the complaint….
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.