The recent lawsuit against Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman by its former head of intellectual property brings into the spotlight a practice that some lawyers might find unimaginable: At several law firms today, the managing partner can unilaterally fire other partners.

Jeremy Pitcock, who led IP at Kasowitz Benson, filed suit against the firm June 5 after his former employer publicized that it fired him last December for inappropriate conduct. In his complaint, Pitcock says that following an inquiry by two partners, name partner Marc Kasowitz called him into his office two days later and fired him on the spot. “Pitcock was surprised at the decision, but he always understood that Marc Kasowitz had the authority to hire or fire anyone at [Kasowitz Benson],” the complaint says. According to Pitcock, the partnership agreement at the firm specifically provides for involuntary withdrawal of partners for no cause.

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