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Chadbourne & Parke Chadbourne & Parke offices in Washington, D.C. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi

Defunct law firm Chadbourne & Parke, trudging through discovery in a $100 million sex discrimination suit filed by three former partners, is handing over some of its most sensitive and confidential documents, including partner compensation information and the internal communications of the firm’s management committee.

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Christine Simmons

Christine Simmons writes about the New York legal community and the business of law. Email her at csimmons@alm.com and find her on Twitter @chlsimmons

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Law Firms Mentioned

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"]<img class="size-full wp-image-8321" src="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Proskauer Rose
  • Sanford Heisler Llp
  • Sidley Austin

/uploads/sites/389/2017/10/Chadbourne-Parke-Offices-Article-201710232112.jpg" alt="Chadbourne &amp; Parke" width="620" height="372" /> <i>Chadbourne &amp; Parke offices in Washington, D.C.</i><br /> Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi[/caption] Defunct law firm Chadbourne &amp; Parke, trudging through discovery in a $100 million sex discrimination suit filed by three former partners, is handing over some of its most sensitive and confidential documents, including partner compensation information and the internal communications��of the firms��management committee. The plaintiffs say its still not enough. They are asking a judge to order Chadbourne to submit more information to fully identify the scope of individual guarantees or other individually negotiated agreements used to pay partners before the firm was absorbed by Norton Rose Fulbright. Meanwhile, a fourth potential plaintiff could enter the case, potentially giving the plaintiffs more leverage to reach a settlement. ���An additional former Chadbourne partner��� has recently come forward and is seeking to join the case, and if the parties cant "reach prompt resolution,��� the plaintiffs will seek to add her, plaintiffs attorney David Sanford said in a letter Friday. [caption id="attachment_8320" align="alignright" width="245"]<img class="wp-image-8320 size-full" src="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Proskauer Rose
  • Sanford Heisler Llp
  • Sidley Austin

/uploads/sites/389/2017/10/Kerrie-Campbell-Vert-201710232110.jpg" alt="Kerrie Campbell" width="245" height="369" /> <i>Kerrie Campbell</i><br /> Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi[/caption] The proposed class action, filed more than a year ago, is being led by former partner Kerrie Campbell and two other former Chadbourne partners���Mary Yelenick, now of counsel at <a href="http://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/sites/newyorklawjournal/2017/06/30/expansion-plans-to-gender-bias-claims-whats-next-for-norton-rose-fulbright/?back=law">merger partner Norton Rose Fulbright</a>, and former Kiev, Ukraine, office leader Jaroslawa Zelinsky Johnson. They claim Chadbourne was run as an ���all-male dictatorship��� that paid women partners less and made its decisions about firm partners in a black box, generally without input or scrutiny from the partnership at large. This summer, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan<a href="http://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/sites/americanlawyer/2017/06/14/judge-keeps-100m-chadbourne-gender-bias-case-alive-proskauer-looks-to-escape/?back=law"> shot down competing motions and ordered limited discovery</a> to determine if the three deserve protection under employment laws, or if their former status as partial owners of the firm disqualifies them from bringing the suit. After a discovery dispute, Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses last week <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4115600-Chadbourne-Discovery-Order-10-16-2017.html" target="_blank">ordered Chadbourne to hand over</a> to the plaintiffs communications between the firm���s management committee members about whether a partner can influence the management of the firm and about potential modifications to the partnership agreement. The judge further ordered Chadbourne to produce management communications about whether to provide information to the general partnership, and about the decision to withhold from the partnership certain information about potential mergers, office closings, and office openings. Finally, the judge ordered Chadbourne to produce management committee documents related to the methodology to determine partner compensation and to adjust partner profit shares from year to year. ���We are pleased with the judge���s order, which compels Chadbourne to produce various categories of documents that plaintiffs expect will show the lack of influence that rank and file Chadbourne partners had and will further show the management committee���s overarching control over the firm,��� said plaintiffs attorney Alexandra Harwin of Sanford Heisler Sharp in an interview. <strong>More Disclosure</strong> Each year, Chadbourne partners received a ���points list��� showing the percentage points of firm ownership allocated to them and all other partners of the firm for the coming year, according to a letter from the parties on Friday. The points list also showed which partners were paid under individual guarantees. Chadbourne said it has produced the point lists��that governed compensation��during the relevant time as well as copies of offer letters sent to lateral partners, which include information on guarantees. In addition, Chadbourne, represented by Proskauer Rose partner Kathleen McKenna, said it has produced documents showing which partners were compensated under individual guarantees and it has agreed to produce documents showing the total dollar amount of the profits distributed to each partner. But the plaintiffs argue the firm���s documents don���t go far enough. Sanford, the plaintiffs��� attorney, said in a Friday letter that the points lists do not name all of the partners who are subject to guarantees and do not all identify, for various partners, the actual dollar amounts paid under the guarantees. Additionally, Sanford argues, the points lists that Chadbourne originally produced only showed the number of points assigned to partners. Nowhere did they disclose the total dollar amount actually paid to each partner, Sanford said. Chadbourne, in response, said such information ���goes well beyond��� the inquiries posed by the court. Moses, who has reserved decision on a portion of discovery requests, has asked the parties to submit a sample copy of a points list, to be sealed in court. ���The documentation we���re seeking is important in confirming that Chadbourne���s rank and file partners did not engage in�� profit sharing and instead received salaries set by the management���s committee,��� Harwin said in an interview. In a separate letter about Chadbournes discovery, the firm said it has processed 2.5 terabytes, or 2,500 gigabytes to create a searchable population of documents, totaling over 4 million records. A trial in the case would likely not occur until late 2018 or��2019, if the parties dont reach a resolution before then. "The court urged the parties to try to resolve matters in connection with the possible addition of a fourth plaintiff, and plaintiffs are in communications with defendants in an attempt to do so," Harwin said. Chadbourne���s merger partner, Norton Rose Fulbright, which��<a href="http://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/sites/newyorklawjournal/2017/07/06/judge-oks-adding-norton-rose-fulbright-to-chadbourne-sex-bias-suit/?back=law">was added to the case earlier this year</a>, is scheduled to respond to the suit by Nov. 9. Norton Rose Fulbright is represented by a separate counsel, Sidley Austin partner Steven Bierman. Bierman and McKenna, Chadbournes attorney, did not respond to emails seeking comment. <

  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Proskauer Rose
  • Sanford Heisler Llp
  • Sidley Austin


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