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Law Firm Sued by Female Partner Votes Her Out

Law Firm Sued by Female Partner Votes Her Out

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In the summer of 2016, Kerrie Campbell filed a lawsuit against Chadbourne & Parke, the law firm where she was a partner since 2014.

The suit seeks $100 million in damages for discrimination, claiming that female partners are paid significantly less than their male counterparts.  In April 2017, the other Chadbourne & Parke partners voted to remove Ms. Campbell as a partner.

Discrimination suits are not uncommon, but this case has some unusual twists to it.  First, once somebody sues their employer, they typically quit.  Ms. Campbell remained with the firm, despite a significant pay cut, citing the need to feed her family.  Second, other female partners joined the suit, but have already left the firm.  Ms. Campbell has been on leave while recovering from surgery, but the firm states her expulsion is unrelated to both the lawsuit and her leave.

The most significant aspect of this case is that it disclosed the compensation practices of the firm, something usually held in the highest confidence.  Since law firms are typically privately held, compensation methods and practices are not required to be disclosed, and partners rarely know what their counterparts earn.

Finally, Chadbourne & Parke is on the cusp of merging with another law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, so the successor firm will be left to defend the case.  As one would expect, the firm denies any claims and maintains that her dismissal is performance based.

This suit looks like one to watch.  With all of its wrinkles, it could really go either way.

Ask the Experts

Alfred Erdmann, CPA, CGMA, Partner
T (212) 829 3215
View Experience


To ensure compliance with U.S. Treasury rules, unless expressly stated otherwise, any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.

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