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The firm had concerns from the start. In July 2003, Donald Gross was angling for a job in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Korea shop. His interviewer, then-partner Michael Kaye, sensed that he was more interested in building the practice than maintaining it. “He struck me as being somewhat na�ve about what law firms are all about. . . . For instance, I’m not sure he has an appreciation for the intensity of a big U.S. law firm,” Kaye wrote in a memo after the interview, according to court documents filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Gross got the job — rather, he signed a one-year contract to work as senior counsel in the firm’s Korea practice — but he was sacked 15 months later, in October 2004. He filed an age-discrimination suit against the firm this March, alleging that his supervisor, Sukhan Kim, told him the firing was “not because of any defects in his performance, but because he was �too senior’ because of his age and, therefore, �not a good fit.’ “ Jonathan Puth of Webster, Frederickson, Henrichsen, Korreia & Puth, who is representing Gross, says, “Akin Gump told Mr. Gross they had reservations about his age before they hired him. We think a jury will see through their defenses.” Now the parties are wrangling over Gross’ recent attempts to tack a retaliation count to his suit and compel the firm to turn over compensation records of his predecessor at the firm and partners in the Korea practice. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman partner Christine Kearns, who is representing Akin Gump, says that Gross’ requests are “irrelevant and overbroad.”
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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