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Boies, Schiller & Flexner was sued Tuesday for wage and sex discrimination by two women attorneys who claim that men at the firm received preferential treatment, and that the firm’s nonpartnership track was less than advertised. Charging that their careers were almost ruined because of their experience at the Armonk, N.Y.-based firm, attorneys Rachel M. Baird and Bonnie Porter said the firm also promised, but failed to deliver, salaries that matched those of men on the partnership track. “What Baird and Porter were not told and did not know was that the non-partnership track was exclusively female, while all male associate attorneys were hired on the partnership track,” the complaint states. “Baird and Porter also were not told and did not know that, while they would perform work substantially equal to that of the male partnership track associate attorneys and would be billed out at the same or higher rates to clients, they would be paid substantially less than their male peers.” Managing partner Jonathan D. Schiller released a prepared statement saying the claims have “absolutely no merit.” “These claims follow plaintiffs’ demands for a payment of more than $1 million to avoid the expected adverse publicity from their reported law suit,” Schiller said. Baird, a 1992 graduate of Yale Law School, spent two years as an assistant attorney general in Connecticut and five years as an assistant state’s attorney for the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice before joining the law firm in January 2000. Porter graduated from Boston College School of Law in 1998, and after serving as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert W. Lovegreen in Rhode Island, worked for two years as an associate in the litigation department at New York-based Rosenman & Colin, where she was on the partnership track. She joined Boies, Schiller & Flexner in April 2000. While both women were told that they would be working on a nonpartnership track, they charged that they were told their assignments and base-salary compensation would mirror those of the attorneys on the partnership track. The compensation schedule for partnership track associates, they alleged, was based on the number of years of experience an attorney had amassed. But the suit claims that while Baird’s salary never exceeded $112,000 and Porter’s $114,000, two male 1996 law school graduates on the partnership track were paid $159,000 annual salaries and two male 1998 law school graduates, also on the partnership track, were paid $145,000. Moreover, the complaint states, Porter and Baird received yearly bonuses based on 25 percent of the value of certain billings that exceeded their base salary, while prospective male partners were paid 30 percent. Schiller, however, said in his statement that “each of the plaintiffs was employed for less than a year and left before their first salary review.” “Each of the plaintiffs [was] paid more than they had ever earned, or been offered, before,” he said. “Each of the plaintiffs was paid as much, or more, than other persons at the firm with comparable qualifications and productivity. The firm has many women partners, associates and paralegals. Each is paid and treated in every way the same as their male counterparts.” The lawsuit claims sex-based wage discrimination in violation of the federal Equal Pay Act and New York’s Equal Pay Law. It also alleges disparate treatment and constructive discharge under the New York State Human Rights Law. HIGH-PROFILE CASES Firm partner David Boies, who has handled a series of high-profile cases including then-Vice President Al Gore’s challenge to the Florida results in last year’s presidential election, was named personally in the suit, along with fellow partner Robert Silver and Philip Korologos, the firm’s administrative partner. Baird and Porter both claim they were constructively discharged from the firm in early 2001 after it became clear “that they would never be treated with the same respect as their male counterparts,” and that “the stigma attached to their non-partnership status became palpable.” The discrimination claims that they filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2001 are still pending. The complaint also states that “defendants’ discriminatory policies and practices based on sex became so intolerable that, to save their legal careers, both Baird and Porter were compelled to resign.” Since leaving Boies, Schiller & Flexner, Baird has started her own practice in Torrington, Conn., and Porter is now on the partnership track at Rhode Island’s Hinckley, Allen & Snyder. They claimed their departure from the firm made them ineligible for bonuses related to contingency-fee matters. Porter claims that she worked a “substantial amount of hours” on the class action brought against Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses. After presenting the highest bid in an auction to win lead counsel status in the case, Boies engineered a settlement in excess of $500 million, securing $26 million fees in the process. The two attorneys also challenged the firm’s lack of annual performance reviews for associates, alleging that, at a firm retreat in late 2000, Boies said it would be difficult to implement such a system because everyone at the firm was “too busy.” And they charged that between January and February 2001, “half the female associates” at the firm’s Armonk offices resigned, and that the only female associate on the partnership track resigned shortly after being given a smaller bonus than comparable male associates. “Defendants’ intentional segregation of women, including Baird and Porter, into lower paying, less prestigious and less desirable positions became clear to Baird and Porter only after they were hired,” the complaint states. “They found defendants’ discriminatory policies and practices extremely demoralizing and degrading.” Schiller said: “Claims such as these trivialize and abuse the important principles that underlie the Equal Pay Act.” Hillary Richard and Laurie Edelstein of Brune & Richard in New York represent Baird and Porter. FIRM RESPONDS Boies, Schiller & Flexner has 119 attorneys nationwide in its offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and other locations. Korologos said the firm has 42 partners, nine of whom are women, and 66 associates, 26 of whom are women. Approximately 28 to 30 attorneys work in the Armonk offices. The firm also responded with statements from Helen Maher and Barbara Clay, two nonpartnership track associates who were cited in the complaint, without their consent, as earning far less than male partnership track attorneys. Clay said she was “compensated fairly” and supports the bonus structure at the firm. Contrary to the complaint’s allegation that associates placed on the nonpartnership track are not considered for promotions to the “senior” or partnership track, Maher said that, upon her hiring, it “was explained that since the firm was fairly new, there were no ‘hard and fast rules,’ and that if I produced exceptional work product, it might be possible to be reclassified as a senior attorney.” Also contrary to the complaint, Maher said that, after one year with the firm, she requested, and received, senior attorney status and a substantial salary increase.

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