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At a time when a wave of sexual harassment and misconduct claims against high-profile men has roiled politics, the media and a variety of industries, law firms are suddenly contending with the reputational and legal risks associated with a potential claim of sexual misconduct or gender discrimination.

Even the handling of legal work for a man accused of sexual misconduct in this environment of heightened awareness can have a negative impact on a firm. Prominent lawyers and large law firms have yet to become direct targets of lawsuits alleging sexual harassment, but a law firm facing claims of any kind of gender discrimination could be at risk.

This means firms under scrutiny for gender discrimination based on pay equity or promotion may consider settling early if they fear there’s a chance that harassment allegations would come to light during the course of litigation, according to lawyers who have either litigated employment claims against law firms or study the legal profession.

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Scott Flaherty

Scott Flaherty, based in New York, covers the business of law with a focus on legal ethics, lawyer misconduct, conflicts-of-interest and litigation involving law firms. He can be reached at [email protected] On Twitter: @sflaherty18

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