Jamie Epstein and Charles Tannenbaum first met 40 years ago when they were growing up in Philadelphia, and their friendship blossomed into a working relationship when both became lawyers. Over the years, they referred or teamed up in the handling of cases, often on handshake fee-splitting deals.

But the working relationship has broken down and the friendship is in jeopardy now that the two are locked in litigation over the contingency fee from the $500,000 settlement of a discrimination case earlier this year.