The Woman Who Took On Big Law Over Gender Discrimination

The Woman Who Took On Big Law Over Gender Discrimination 2
The Woman Who Took On Big Law Over Gender Discrimination 3
ABA file photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick

The gender disparity issue in the legal industry has been no better highlighted than in the lawsuit brought by female lawyers at law firm Chadbourne & Parke, which has now been settled after a history of twists and turns.

A motion filed by the plaintffs to settle has been filed in recent days and the three plaintiffs are to reportedly receive up to $1 million each.

The principal protagonist in the action, Kerrie Campbell, had already sued the firm for $100 million in 2016 for gender discrimination and unequal pay and she was ousted from the firm. She claimed that female partners in the firm were paid 21 per cent less than male partners.

Chadbournes murged with Norton Rose Fulbright in mid-2017

The ABA Journal reports that Mary Yelenick, a former Chadbourne partner who is now of counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright, will receive $750,000, according to the article, and Jaroslawa Z. Johnson, who was managing partner of the firm’s Ukraine office, will get $250,000.

The suit argued that when Campbell joined Chadbourne, she thought there was only a one-tier partnership. But she discovered that the management committee could hire and promote partners without the general partnership’s knowledge. Campbell also alleged that she received far less in annual compensation than the $750,000 she was expecting, based on her offer letter, and partners treated her business development like a fluke.

The whole issue of gender discrimination in the law has taken on increasing significance with leaders in the profession like Ms Campbell taking an almost #Meetoo stand of protesting at the injustice.

“I’m bringing the lawsuit because I think discriminatory treatment needs to stop,” Campbell told the ABA Journal. “Many women who have been treated unfairly do not try to seek a remedy because it is difficult. But nothing will change if people do not stand up.”

Her situation is similar to that taken by former Squire Patton lawyer Kristen Jarvis Johnson who claimed famously on Reddit that the firm practiced  “blatant gender discrimination, sexual harassment and a very clear glass ceiling.”

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