ICYMI during the week, here’s a roundup of what went down in the legal industry.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “They want David Souter in the streets and Sam Alito in the sheets, after all.” That comes courtesy of an Above the Law post about the Pride Day that UConn Law’s Federalist Society is throwing Oct. 23.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO WHAT’S HAPPENING AT DLA PIPER:
Okay, so, at the very beginning of October, a partner at DLA Piper publicly accused the firm’s Silicon Valley senior partner Louis Lehot of sexually assaulting her multiple times (four, to be exact) and asked the firm to release her from its mandatory arbitration agreement. Vanina Guerrero also filed her claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The next week, on Monday, Oct. 7, Guerrero’s attorney wrote an open letter to presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris — whose husband is a partner at DLA Piper — asking for the senator’s help and citing her stated position against forced arbitration [Bloomberg & American Lawyer].
Law school students protested outside of DLA Piper offices in three cities because of the allegations against Lehot and demanded that Guerrero be released from mandatory arbitration. In response to the open letter written by Guerrero’s lawyer (and assumedly the publicity from the protests and so forth), Harris issued a statement via her comms director, saying, “Senator Harris has been and continues to be a staunch advocate for survivors and believes all people must be guaranteed their day in court. She has long opposed forced arbitration agreements and that position has not changed and she does not believe this is any exception” [ATL].
On Friday, Oct. 11, DLA Piper opted to “part ways” with senior partner Lehot following the sexual assault allegation levied against him by Guerrero. “The firm has concluded for various reasons that it is in the best interest of the firm that we part ways with Louis Lehot,” top brass wrote in an email to employees [Law.com].
Last week brought the shocking news that Guerrero, the alleged victim, was placed on administrative leave as of Wednesday, Oct. 16. The Big Law firm said there were allegations that Guerrero harassed another DLA Piper attorney. In return, Guerrero’s lawyers accused DLA Piper of launching a “smear campaign” against her [American Lawyer]. Whew, this rivals what’s going down at Jones Day!
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL…Jones Day’s London office has an “endemic culture of sexual inappropriateness,” according to a six-month-long investigation [Legal Week]. Also, not sounding condescending at all , on Thursday Jones Day told a D.C. federal court Thursday that the gender discrimination case brought against them by two married ex-associates was just a “quibble” over semantics. We’re sure the plaintiffs will be so relieved to hear that [Law360].
IN OTHER ALLEGED MISCONDUCT NEWS: News just surfaced that Andrew Sandler, who founded the firm formerly known as Buckley Sandler, was forced out in 2018 because of misconduct allegations. At the time Sandler reportedly chose to retire from law rather than participate in an investigation. The revelations were made public amidst a legal insurance battle [ATL].
NEVERTHELESS, SHE, ER, THE PAY GAP, PERSISTED: An analysis of five decades of data (that’s 50 years, folks!) shows that women now hold slightly more positions in the legal profession, but men still have the majority of senior roles, perpetuating the gender pay gap [WSJ].
DIVERSITY UNIVERSITY: A panel of powerful white attorneys got together to talk about what it means to be an ally for diversity. “It’s about being comfortable with being awkward,” said one panelist, which seems true, but we hear from powerful white men so often it seems weird to convene them on purpose for this discussion so we’re just … puzzled. “I can approach the conversation humbly and listen to what others have to say,” said another panelist (humbly?) [Corporate Counsel]. Proskauer Rose diversity and inclusion officer Peter Wilson Jr. told a recent panel that when he first started his new job, he wasn’t expecting to have such heavy interaction with associates. “In order to make sure I was moving the needle in some meaningful way, I had to get involved in all aspects of associate life. Hours, reports. Who are they working with? What level of progression are they having in their careers?” [Corporate Counsel]. In-house counsel would like more diversity when it comes to the outside legal teams they work with, but that often means going to more boutique firms that offer less fire power [Corporate Counsel].
MYSTERY GRAB BAG: Three Kirkland Ellis lawyers discuss what big business has learned two years after the rise of the #MeToo movement [Bloomberg Law]. Here’s some tips from female lawyers on working with men in the industry [American Lawyer].
BROADLY SPEAKING: The law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers, Mossack Fonseca, is suing Netflix for its portrayal in the film “The Laundromat.” The company and its name partners are really quite displeased with being characterized “as ruthless uncaring lawyers who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and/or other criminal conduct.” We’ll be taking a front row seat for this, please and thanks [ABA Journal]. “Rudy Giuliani prepares for one million legal cases by firing his lawyer” [ATL].
And just like that…
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