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The golden years just got a bit shinier at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis. Last week, the partnership voted to abolish the firm’s mandatory retirement age policy, which was at 70. “Our management group for a while has believed that such provisions are a vestige of times past, that they are not rationally grounded,” says Peter Kalis, the chairman and global managing partner of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. “And that they are outside the mainstream of enlightened thinking about older lawyers and older workers generally.” Last month, Sidley Austin got a dose of enlightenment in the form of a $27.5 million payout to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the firm in 1999 forced out 32 partners — most of whom were over the age of 40. Given the outcome of the case and the fact that the EEOC has taken a definite interest in how firms are treating older workers, other firms might dismantle their policies as well — though at least one major D.C. firm, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, is not currently thinking of changing its 65 and out policy. Kalis says the Sidley Austin settlement didn’t lead to the policy shift, and the partnership has been considering the move since the beginning of the year.
Attila Berry can be contacted at [email protected].

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