Lawyers

Why Are Law Firms So Hard to Sue?
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Summary: Lawyers wanting to sue their own firms face obstacles. 

Two months ago, a former Winston & Strawn partner sued the firm for sex discrimination. While she and other attorneys have been able to sue big firms, others have not because of internal forces such as fear of losing one’s career and external forces such as employment statuses and arbitration agreements, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. 

  
What
Where


Lawsuits against former employers “can mean career suicide,” Crain’s stated. Additionally, law firms have policies in place that often mean disputes end up in arbitration, not in court.

“The nature of the work and the legal structure of law firms actually make it harder for lawyers to sue for discrimination or unequal pay compared to workers at other businesses. Law firms are partnerships, which muddies the straightforward employer/employee relationship that undergirds employment law. Compound that with contracts that increasingly require private arbitration, and the chances for a plaintiff victory wither,” Crains stated.

Constance Ramos, the partner of Winston & Strawn who sued recently, even faced the challenge of having her employment status questioned. According to Winston, her title was “income partner” and she was therefore not an employee. In October, the firm filed a motion that her case should be dismissed because the “allegations are untenable as a matter of law.” In November, Ramos’ attorney argued that Ramos had no equity and could be fired at any time, thus making her an employee of the firm.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!




The argument that partners have no legal grounds to sue because they are not employees has been used often by law firms who’ve been sued in discrimination cases. Judge Richard Posner wrote in 2007 that partners must be examined individually when they sue to see how much control they have over management decisions like hiring and firing to determine their status.

Posner’s opinion was written for a settlement between Sidley Austin and 32 partners who claimed they were pushed out because of their age. The law firm did not admit to wrongdoing but settled the lawsuit for $27.5 million. Because Posner’s decision was part of a settlement, his opinion set no precedent.



The nature of legal work is another reason why lawyers have a hard time winning discrimination lawsuits against their firms. Lawyers rarely have the same practice, which makes discrimination on age, sex, or race difficult to prove.

“Title VII, the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, age and other categories, forced firms to hire women in the 1970s. Title VII cases require a female plaintiff to find a similarly situated male attorney who was treated better. That can be hard to do, since rarely do two lawyers have exactly the same practice, says Nancy Levit, interim associate dean at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law,” Crain’s wrote.

Lastly, lawyers are experts in the law. Thus, they know better than to do anything discriminatory on the record, and without proof, many attorneys who want to sue their firms have a hard time winning their cases in court.

Source: Crain’s Chicago Business 

What do you think about lawyers who sue their own law firms? Let us know in the comments below.



 

Interesting Legal Sites You May Like


BCG FEATURED JOB

Locations:

Keyword:



Search Now

General Municipal Law Attorney with land use experience

USA-CA-Oakland

Oakland office of our client seeks general municipal law attorney with experience advising public ag...

Apply Now

Senior Land Use Attorney with experience

USA-CA-San Francisco

San Francisco office of our client seeks senior land use attorney with 7+ years of experience. The c...

Apply Now

Immigration Attorney with portable business

USA-VA-McLean

McLean office is seeking an immigration attorney with $500,000+ in portable business.

Apply Now

Commercial Litigation Attorney with 4+ years of experience

USA-IL-Chicago

Chicago office of our client seeks commercial litigation attorney with 4+ years of experience. The c...

Apply Now

RELEVANT JOBS

Managing Director, Litigation Finance Investments

USA-FL-Tampa

Title                ...

Apply now

Contract Associate

USA-CA-Sausalito

Seeking lawyer with at least 2 yrs experience in complex real estate transactional matters, with wil...

Apply now

Paralegal

USA-CO-Greeley

Growing full-service law firm based in Fort Collins and Greeley is seeking a full time Paralegal. Th...

Apply now

Associate

USA-NY-Syracuse

Our Syracuse, NY office seeks an Associate with 3-5 years experience defending general liabilit...

Apply now

Most Popular

SEARCH IN ARCHIVE

To Top