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Former Partner Claims Blank Rome Fired Him for LGBT Advocacy
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Summary: A former Blank Rome attorney is suing the firm for discrimination. 

Blank Rome is under fire for allegedly being homophobic. The Big Law firm has recently been sued by a former equity partner, The ABA Journal reports. The former partner claims Blank Rome wanted to steal his intellectual property clients and disliked him because he openly supported gay rights.

  
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Last week in Philadelphia, Alfred Zaher filed a lawsuit against Blank Rome. The suit says Zaher was successful in developing clients and generating fees, and that he generated over $2.5 million a year. According to his suit, the firm forced him out in order to steal his IP practice.

Zaher left in July 2014. He alleges that managing partner Alan Hoffman plotted to steal his clients and had two other lawyers do his bidding. The two lawyers allegedly visited Zaher’s clients and told them that Zaher was exiting the firm due to “ethical issues.” Zaher said that there had never been any action to expel him and that he had no ethical issues.

The suit goes on to say that Hoffman hated that Zaher openly advocated for gay rights in the legal community. Hoffman allegedly made “unfounded and disrespectful” comments disparaging Zaher’s mannerisms and clothing, and he allegedly disapproved that Zaher organized a meeting of 70 LGBT Philadelphia lawyers at the Blank Rome Philadelphia office.

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Blank Rome denied the allegations, but told media that they could not comment on specifics of the complaint.

“The firm will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Zaher’s baseless charges,” Blank Rom said in a statement. “For more than 70 years, Blank Rome has been committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment.”



Zaher is now a shareholder at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. His bio states that, “He concentrates his practice on patent, trademark and trade secret litigation, licensing and counseling.”  He is also on the board of directors of LGBT Bar.

According to LawCrossing, Blank Rome has nine offices; its largest in Philadelphia. It has almost 500 attorneys and 121 partners. In an effort to promote diversity, the firm has affinity groups for lawyers: Attorney of Color Affinity Group, the Women’s Forum, and the LGBT Affinity Group. The groups provide a space for women and minority lawyers to network and exchange ideas.

Source: ABA Journal



 

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