Editor’s note: This letter is in response to a column written by The Careerist Vivia Chen, who attempted to contact James Tanenbaum for comment prior to its publication. After Chen was unable to obtain a working email address for Tanenbaum, she sent him a message via LinkedIn indicating that she was referencing the Wall Street Journal article in her column and asking for his comment.
To The Editors:
I read with great disappointment the August 9, 2018, article about myself and other “rainmakers” in large law firms who have been forced out due to harassment allegations.
Your article appears not to have been the result of any independent inquiry or investigation and its statement that I did not respond to requests for comments is untrue. No one from The American Lawyer contacted me for comment. The article, merely excerpts from The Wall Street Journal article, selected, isolated, and anonymous claims against me, which I denied in writing. Your article also omits the positive quotes concerning me printed in The Wall Street Journal as well as the numerous positive comments from both men and women posted online by former colleagues in response to The Wall Street Journal article. The Wall Street Journal worked for five months researching their article, and all they could find to print in the one-sided article were baseless allegations that your publication chose to repeat. Fair and accurate reporting required that those facts be reported upon, but they were not.
It is true that I am old-fashioned. I am 70 years old. And some of my actions—such as touching a colleague’s forehead to see if he or she had a fever, or commenting on the business attire of the men and women who worked for me—are things that are now considered inappropriate. But I have never harassed anyone or intentionally made anyone feel uncomfortable. I have strongly supported the women who have worked with me in the male-dominated capital-markets environment. As set forth in The Wall Street Journal article, I believe that my former firm, Morrison & Foerster, used trumped-up or amplified allegations, never shared with me or my attorney, to force me into retirement, and keep much of the business I had brought to the firm. Your article omits any reference to my position.
In short, I believe the #MeToo movement was weaponized to gain a business advantage. And sadly, it worked. I’m just sorry to see that the American Lawyer took the bait, did nothing to verify its facts or make normal inquiry.
New York, N.Y.
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