Back in 2009, we wrote about a Title VII suit that a former associate filed against Mayer Brown. To make a long story short (read our prior posts for the full background), Venus Yvette Springs, an African American woman, alleges that the firm discriminated against her because of her race, and eventually fired her in 2008 during the height of layoff season.
Springs filed her complaint against the Biglaw firm more than two and a half years ago, and in the time since, both parties have filed lengthy motions for summary judgment. Springs, who apparently had some time on her hands, also filed a lawsuit against Ally Financial, claiming that she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for her suit against Mayer Brown.
On Friday, a federal judge ruled on the motions, and we’ve finally got an update. Will this discrimination suit be allowed to proceed?
Last week, we brought you the story of a former Mayer Brown associate who is suing the firm. We have some more back story on the plaintiff, Venus Yvette Springs, and she certainly sounds like a colorful person.
Before joining Mayer Brown, Springs worked at Cadwalader. According to our tipsters, she left CWT in an interesting fashion:
In her departure email from Cadwalader, she quoted all sorts of religious passages and talked about how she wanted to devote her life to pro bono.
Shortly thereafter, she wound up at Mayer Brown — one of the largest and most profitable law firms on the planet.
In her complaint against Mayer Brown, Springs alleged that the firm did not count her pro bono hours as it had promised. Of course, working in the real estate department at a major firm hardly sounds like a life “devoted to pro bono.” She wants to work with clients who can’t pay, but wants to make sure she gets a plump pay check anyway.
But maybe she needed to support her family. Unconfirmed reports say that her husband is Jules Springs. Jules Springs recently pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud. No word on whether or not Mr. Springs was an equal opportunity defrauder.
After the jump, Venus Springs compares her plight at Mayer Brown to the Holocaust. I wish I were making that up.
A former Mayer Brown associate, Venus Yvette Springs, has filed a complaint against the firm. She alleges Mayer Brown discriminated against her and eventually fired her in 2008.
Springs was an associate in the real estate group of Mayer Brown, Charlotte. In her complaint, she claims that the head of the group, Frank Arado, said that he would make her a partner with the firm as recently as March 2008. But in May 2008, she was informed that she would be fired. She was officially terminated in September of 2008. The heart of her discrimination claim seems to be this paragraph:
In a statement obtained by Above the Law, Mayer Brown strenuously denied the claims:
Mayer Brown has not yet been served with the complaint filed by former employee Yvette Springs. However, based on our current review, we believe her claims have no merit. We will defend ourselves vigorously in this matter. Consistent with our policy of not commenting on personnel matters or pending litigation, we have nothing further to say.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…
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 six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.