BigLaw says partners are not employees

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Chadbourne & Parke claims that partners are not employees in a motion to dismiss a gender bias lawsuit filed by a current partner at the firm.
“Our motion makes clear that this case never should have been brought. The plaintiffs as partners of the Firm are its owners, not its employees, and thus are not legally entitled to bring claims against the Firm under the employment laws that they are trying to invoke,” a spokesperson of the American BigLaw firm said, according to Above The Law.
Back in august, litigation partner Kerrie L. Campbell filed a $100-million gender discrimination class action lawsuit against the firm on behalf of current and former female partners.
Soon after, a group of current female partners of the firm criticised Campbell’s attorney, David Stanford, for considering them part of the class without making effort to speak to any of them. However, Stanford fired back saying New York, where the class action was filed, prohibits lawyers from soliciting clients with whom they have no prior relationship.
That response from the group of female Chadbourne partners, however, may be taken as consistent with what the firm’s spokesperson said in the statement regarding the latest motion to dismiss.
“The case also was never proper to bring as a class action. These are uniquely individual claims, and plaintiffs cannot inflate the group they purport to represent to a level that warrants class action treatment under controlling law,” the spokesperson said.
“Notwithstanding the fanfare with which this lawsuit was announced by the plaintiffs, the fact is that it is plagued by fundamental legal defects that require it to be dismissed,” the statement added.
The firm has also claimed that Campbell had acted inappropriately on a number of occasions, had displayed poor judgment in using alcohol, was found by associates difficult to work with, had wasted associate time and had a client dissatisfied with her previous work.
It should be noted, however, that Campbell is not without a supporter. Jaroslawa Zelinsky Johnson, a former equity partner at the firm, has joined the lawsuit as plaintiff.
“I read [the lawsuit] and it brought back a flood of memories—the disparity in compensation continues,” said Johnson, noting that she does not know Campbell personally,” Johnson told American Lawyer.
“I’m not by nature a litigious person, but [joining this case] was an opportunity to help the next generation of women lawyers. That’s why I’m doing this,” she added.

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