Washington Wrap is a weekly look at the biggest legal industry news and Big Law moves shaping the legal business in Washington, D.C. Send tips and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at email@example.com.
We may never know what persuaded Proskauer Rose partner Connie Bertram to drop her $50 million gender discrimination suit against the firm this month. But that doesn’t mean no lessons can be drawn from the case.
Proskauer and Washington-based Bertram filed a stipulation of dismissal late last week. Since agreeing to drop her claims, which Proskauer denied, Bertram is still listed as head of the firm’s labor and employment practice.
Sticking around after squaring off in litigation against your own partnership may seem, well, awkward. But Katherine Kimpel, a former name partner at the plaintiffs firm that represented Bertram, Sanford Heisler Sharp, said bringing bias claims like Bertram’s to light should be applauded.
Kimpel left Sanford Heisler in 2016 after winning several high-profile discrimination cases. She now has two D.C.-based businesses—one counseling executives and senior professionals whose employment is in jeopardy, and another advising employers on how to build strong workplaces.
She said law firms can guard against gender discrimination and sexual harassment claims by rethinking workplace policies. Often longstanding harassment and discrimination training approaches (think webinars) do not work, Kimpel said. Law firms should also be making an affirmative commitment not to insist on forced arbitration and nondisclosure agreements.
“The people who come forward, and are willing to be brave enough to even go public, are doing you a service,” Kimpel said she tells clients.
More broadly, she said Big Law is vulnerable to harassment and discrimination problems as long as promotion, development and compensation structures favor men. The legal industry’s strict adherence to precedent in all areas has made it resistant to change, Kimpel said.
“This is not an easy-fix sort of situation, nor is it an immediate one,” Kimpel said. “Culture change takes time.”
Speaking of no easy fixes, Jones Day is counseling Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, on his response to a Pennsylvania grand jury report unearthing claims of sexual misconduct by hundreds of Catholic priests. The report finds fault with Wuerl for his actions as bishop of Pittsburgh, where he presided for 18 years before coming to Washington.
Wuerl is also facing scrutiny for his response to last week’s resignation by his predecessor in D.C., Theodore McCarrick, from the College of Cardinals after sexual abuse allegations against McCarrick spanning several decades became public.
Though the name of the law firm was noticeably absent from the article, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz of counsel George Conway was one of the subjects of a probing Washington Post profile this week, examining his marriage to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.
Not surprisingly, the story, which describes George Conway’s public criticisms of the president on Twitter and elsewhere, spends the most time on Kellyanne Conway. George Conway, whose legal achievements include a key Supreme Court win for securities class action defendants in Morrison v. National Australia Bank, is identified simply as a “conservative super lawyer” who has worked at a “big-time law firm in New York City.”
David Elkind, former partner at Lowenstein Sandler, has joined Anderson Kill as senior counsel in Washington. The veteran insurance recovery attorney represents corporate policyholders in complex insurance coverage disputes.
Elkind’s return to Anderson Kill after more than 20 years—he previously worked at Anderson Kill from 1988 to 1996—was described by a PR representative noting Elkind’s move to reporters as akin to Odysseus’ trek in the Homeric epic, “The Odyssey.”
The move marks a return for Elkind—he previously practiced at Anderson Kill from 1988 to 1996. The former head of the now-defunct Dickstein Shapiro insurance group’s energy practice, Elkind also worked at Orrick before joining Lowenstein Sandler in 2015.
After writing an article for Yahoo about Paul Manafort’s trial, Luppen scrapped his pseudonym this week.
“Why do this now? It wasn’t an easy decision,” Luppen wrote on Twitter. “I really like pseudonymity. It allows you to be—or at least delude yourself into thinking you are—judged on your words and the content of your ideas rather than credentials or social connections. I’ll miss that.”
Luppen wrote that after nine years in Big Law, he resigned from his firm at the end of last year to “work on a project of my own which remains undisclosed for now.”
Byron Brown, former deputy chief of staff to axed Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, will join Crowell & Moring later this month.
Brown will work in the firm’s environment and natural resources and government affairs groups. Brown did not sign President Trump’s ethics pledge and will, therefore, begin looking to influence policymaking in Washington much quicker than other recently departed Trump administration officials. He said he takes his ethical obligations “very seriously.”
Police identified a suspect in the killing of Stephen Shapiro, the 72-year-old founder of Mayer Brown’s U.S. Supreme Court practice. Shapiro was shot and killed Monday night in Chicago by his brother-in-law, John Gately III, police said.
Expressions of shock and sympathy have reverberated throughout the legal industry as lawyers grappled with the loss of Shapiro, whose generosity in interactions with fellow lawyers and inquisitive journalists throughout his career is detailed here by Tony Mauro.
Blank Rome added Luke Meier as partner in its government contracts group in Washington from Covington & Burling.
Meier counsels clients doing business with the federal government, particularly involving allegations of fraud brought under the False Claims Act.