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Former Ropes Partner Fired, But No Discrimination
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According to The AmLaw Daily, the lawyer representing Ropes & Gray persisted at a hearing this last Wednesday that the law firm terminated Patricia Martone, a former partner at Ropes who was female and age 63  in late 2010, but there was no discrimination involved in the firing.

The firm insisted the partner was let go because of economics, not retaliation or bias. The attorney representing Ropes & Gray in the matter was Bettina Plevan, an employment and labor partner at Proskauer Rose.

  
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Plevan works in New York at Proskauer. She co-heads the firm’s International Labor & Employment Group and Class/Collective Action Group. She counsels clients in banking, consumer products, entertainment, healthcare, publishing, on employment law. She handles single plaintiff and class action lawsuits relating to discrimination, employee benefits, and harassment.

Plevan tried to convince U.S. District Judge John Koeltl to dismiss on summary judgment a case brought against Ropes in March 2011 by the former Ropes partner.

The hearing lasted two-and-a half-hours. When it was over, the court gave no ruling, but did hear a portrayal of Ropes as a law firm where leaders may be hastily let go aging partners who do not do well in bringing in business.

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Martone currently works at Morrison & Foerster. She is an intellectual property trial lawyer. She has  35 years of experience in cases involving patents and trademarks.  She represents litigants on both sides of the fence – plaintiffs and defendants – in federal courts throughout the United States.

Martone has clients in the United States, Japan, and Europe, including Aisin AW, Casio, Ricoh, and Solar Physics. In her career, she has gone to trial on 12 cases to verdict or judgment. In her lawsuit against Ropes, Martone alleges Ropes management undermined her Asia-focused intellectual property practice, passing her clients to younger male partners, and finally firing her after she reported the discrimination to management in 2010.



Martone joined Ropes in a 2005 merger between Ropes and Fish & Neave, a law firm focused on intellectual property. When Martone reported the bias actions to management, the law firm engaged O’Melveny & Myers to investigate. In October 2010, Ropes chairman R. Bradford Malt communicated to Martone that versus finding evidence of bias, the investigation resulted in discovery of her practice being “unsustainable,” according to her complaint. Because of economics, Malt fired her during the October 2010 meeting.

During the hearing on Wednesday, issues were raised on the timing of the former Ropes partner’s termination being “troubling” because it was immediately subsequent to Martone’s request for investigation on discrimination. The court did not make a ruling, and stated a decision will be announced in a few weeks. The court persuaded the parties to settle the case while awaiting the decision.

Plevan stressed Ropes would have terminated the aging partner earlier if not for the delay created by the investigation.



 

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