- Bar Exams, Biglaw, Clarence Thomas, Crime, Health Care / Medicine, Law Schools, Morning Docket, Politics, Supreme Court
- Asians, Biglaw, California, Feminism, Gender, Intellectual Property, Labor / Employment, Lawsuit of the Day, Litigators, Movies, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Sexual Harassment
Youngblood v. Irell & Manella: The Law Firm Fights Back
Firm denies claims and moves for arbitration.
Last month, Juliette Youngblood, an ex-partner at the elite California law firm of Irell & Manella, filed suit against her former firm. In her lawsuit for sex discrimination and wrongful termination, Youngblood advanced a whole host of salacious allegations — including a report of sexual harassment by Morgan Chu, arguably the nation’s #1 intellectual-property litigator.
Irell did not respond to the lawsuit at the time. Now it has, in a blistering 22-page filing that calls Youngblood’s claims “meritless” and “utterly false, complete fabrications manufactured out of whole cloth.”
What does the firm have to say about the specific claims made by Youngblood — such as the allegation that a drunken Morgan Chu made inappropriate and offensive comments to her at a firm happy hour, including remarks about her physical appearance and about “objects entering [Youngblood's] body”?
And what do ATL sources, including readers familiar with both Youngblood and Irell, think of the situation?
- Asians, Biglaw, California, Feminism, Gender, Intellectual Property, Labor / Employment, Lawsuit of the Day, Litigators, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Sexual Harassment
Lawsuit of the Day: Youngblood v. Irell & Manella
Former partner alleges sexual harassment by Morgan Chu.
Legendary litigator Morgan Chu, former managing partner and current litigation chair at Irell & Manella, is one of the nation’s top intellectual-property attorneys and trial lawyers. He has tried multiple IP cases to nine-figure jury verdicts, and he has earned every professional accolade under the sun (see his Irell website bio). He is arguably the nation’s #1 IP litigator. (If you disagree, make your case for someone else in the comments.)
And now Morgan Chu is the subject of sexual-harassment allegations. In a lawsuit filed in California Superior Court on Friday, former Irell partner Juliette Youngblood alleges that Chu sexually harassed her, then retaliated against her after she rejected his advances.
Morgan Chu is widely admired — at Irell, where his
rainmaking monsoon-making helps generate robust partner profits (over $2.9 million in PPP in 2010), as well as above-market associate bonuses; in IP litigation circles, where he is a fearsome adversary; and among Asian-American lawyers, where he stands as proof that we can excel at litigation as well as transactional work.
It’s hard to believe that such a beloved figure has been hit with such salacious allegations (which we must emphasize are mere allegations at this point, nothing more). But let’s forge ahead and check them out — along with the pertly pretty plaintiff who is making them….
Norris Sydnor III, a 43-year-old Maryland man, is suing his nail salon for $200,000 after being charged $10 for a manicure, when women beside him were being charged only $9 for the same service. A judge issued an injunction on June 15 which ordered the salon to stop charging men more than women. A trial is set for July 21.
When I first read about this lawsuit, I was jealous, because my manicures usually cost $15. I want a $9 manicure, and I don’t want to have to drive to Maryland to get one. My jealousy, however, turned to rage when I found out that Sydnor’s lawyer, Jimmy Bell, is comparing his client to Rosa Parks.
Is this guy seriously suing over one dollar? And is his lawyer actually comparing him to one of the revolutionaries of the civil rights era? The answer to both of those questions, sadly, is yes, and I’m pissed off about it. In fact, I was so pissed off that I actually did some research about this lawsuit. And boy, am I glad that I did…
Back in December, we covered a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by JoEllen Lyons Dillon, a comely corporate partner at Reed Smith, against the firm (where she still worked at the time). Dillon’s allegations were salacious. She claimed, for example, that “work was diverted … to female attorneys who were willing to engage in sexual relations with members of management” — and that her refusal to engage in such relations hurt her at Reed Smith.
Dillon’s case was filed by Samuel J. Cordes, a prominent Pittsburgh employment lawyer. Despite his somewhat cheesy law firm motto, Cordes is well-regarded and seen as “only tak[ing] good cases,” according to one ATL tipster. Cordes promised that his client would, over the course of the litigation, produce specific examples of sexual quid pro quos at Reed Smith. Delicious!
Alas, today brings word that JoEllen Dillon has dropped her case. What happened?
After talking to so many happy small-firm lawyers, I have begun looking for my own niche to scratch. It came to me while driving in the suburbs a few weeks ago. There was a radio ad for an awesome night club (“18 to party and 21 to drink”) promoting ladies’ night and a wet t-shirt contest for the ladies until midnight.
As I got off the highway to head to the club, I realized that I had found my niche: ladies’ night is just for the ladies. What about man night? Where is the justice in the world? I should fight for all the men who are discriminated against by paying a cover charge on ladies’ night (well, except for those men who ultimately get preferential treatment from said ladies who enjoyed their free drinks).
Unfortunately for me, Roy Den Hollander took up this worthy cause before my fateful drive to the Boom Boom Room on Highway 12. Let’s learn more about him….
- 9th Circuit, Document Review, Gender, Labor / Employment, SCOTUS, Technology, Wal-Mart, Women's Issues
In 1995, Betty Dukes took a job at a Wal-Mart near San Francisco, working as a cashier and greeter for $5 an hour. A “greeter” represents the face of the company as consumers walk through the door. Little did Dukes and Wal-Mart know that Dukes would ultimately become a face of Wal-Mart nationally, under much different circumstances.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Wal-Mart v. Dukes. Dukes is now the lead plantiff in a gender bias suit that may become the largest class action in American history, with attorneys for Dukes seeking to represent a class of possibly 1.6 million women. SCOTUS will be determining if the plaintiff cases against Wal-Mart are sufficiently related for them to be certified as a class.
So what does this have to do with legal technology, which is what I cover for ATL? Everything. And no matter what the court decides, the legal and technological ramifications of this case do not bode well for the retail giant…
- Biglaw, ERISA, Gender, Intellectual Property, Labor / Employment, Litigators, Litigatrix, Old People, Partner Issues, Patents, Women's Issues
On Tuesday, Ropes & Gray was sued in Manhattan federal court by a former partner, Patricia A. Martone. Martone’s lawsuit claims age discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation, and interference with protected retirement benefits in violation of ERISA (the basis for federal jurisdiction in the S.D.N.Y.).
As you might expect from an ex-Ropes partner, Martone has some high-powered counsel: Anne Vladeck, one of New York’s top labor and employment lawyers, widely regarded as the queen of employment discrimination law. Vladeck famously (and successfully) represented Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.
Patricia Martone is a veteran intellectual-property litigatrix, a specialist in patent litigation, with almost 40 years of practice under her belt. She made partner at Fish & Neave, the well-known patent law firm, in 1983, and then became a Ropes partner in 2005, when Ropes absorbed Fish. She’s now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, which she joined in October 2010.
Why did she leave Ropes? Let’s have a look at Patricia Martone, and her lawsuit….
Pennsylvania legal circles are buzzing over a discrimination lawsuit filed yesterday in federal district court by a partner in the Pittsburgh office of Reed Smith. One source who informed us of the suit referred to “some really interesting allegations” against the firm.
A corporate and energy law partner at Reed Smith, JoEllen Lyons Dillon, alleges that her firm pays and promotes women less than men. Yawn; that’s definitely not “really interesting.” While unfortunate — or even outrage-inducing — if true, one could say the same thing about dozens, if not hundreds, of large law firms.
Far more interesting is Dillon’s claim that “work was diverted … to female attorneys who were willing to engage in sexual relations with members of [Reed Smith] management or with whom members of [Reed Smith] management had sought to engage in such relations.” Dillon alleges that because she “did not engage in such relations,” she was professionally penalized.
Dillon decided instead to have “relations” with her husband, resulting in the birth of twins. After she took time off to take care of the two tots, “her total compensation decreased, by almost half,” according to the complaint. Dillon claims that when she objected to this pay cut, partner David DeNinno, former chair of the Business & Finance Department at RS, asked if she was “done having babies yet.”
That’s just for starters. Dillon claims to have more dirt on her firm….