Eric Schneiderman’s spectacular fall from his legal perch this week as the New York attorney general amid sexual assault allegations prompted us to take a look back at the more odious behavior alleged against leaders in the legal profession.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Mark Hastings The firm expelled the litigation partner on May 8 following allegations in February by two staffers that led to his suspension at the time. He was dismissed following an internal investigation into the allegations. The law firm has referred itself to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the regulatory body that oversees solicitors in England and Wales, in response to allegations.
Latham & Watkins chairman Bill Voge The former firm leader abruptly stepped down in March over what the firm said was inappropriate “communication of a sexual nature” with a woman who had no connection to the firm. The situation was reportedly related to his involvement with a Christian support group that aims to help men deal with the temptations they face in their professional lives. At last count, no fewer than eight partners are vying to replace Voge, including two women.
Mayer Brown partner James Tanenbaum A week after joining Mayer Brown’s New York office, capital markets partner James Tanenbaum left the firm earlier this year following allegations that he engaged in inappropriate conduct at Morrison & Foerster. The firm said Tanenbaum “forcefully denies” the claims.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski Beset by allegations of sexual misconduct from nine women, including former clerks on the Ninth Circuit, Kozinski retired in December. The allegations prompted reforms in the way the federal judiciary handles sexual harassment claims.
Robinson & Cole partner Dwight Merriam The prominent law partner in Connecticut was arrested May 1 on third-degree assault and disorderly conduct charges following an altercation with his fiancée, who says Merriam assaulted her with a frying pan and left a softball-sized mark on her hip. He’s unlikely to face disciplinary proceedings.
Roy Moore The former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice and candidate for the U.S. Senate was accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenagers in the 1970s. Moore, ousted from state’s high court in 2016 for defying the U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage and who lost the Senate race in November, sued four of his accusers in April, alleging that they had defamed and conspired against him.
Baker McKenzie anonymous senior partner The law firm announced a confidential settlement with a former female associate who alleged that a partner in its U.K. office had assaulted her. The U.K.’s Solicitors Regulation Authority announced in February that it would commission an independent review of its response to the incident, which occurred several years ago.
Linklaters partner Thomas Elser In February, the former partner in Germany was sentenced to three years and three months in prison for sexual assault. The assault took place after a Linklaters Oktoberfest party in 2014.
U.C. Berkeley Board of Regents and Law Dean Sujit Choudhry Tyann Sorrell, a former assistant to Choudhry, sued him and U.C. Berkeley’s Board of Regents in March 2016, alleging that Choudhry had hugged, kissed and touched her in unwanted ways, and that the university denied her requests to be transferred to another position after she complained. Choudhry subsequently stepped down as dean. In April 2017, the school agreed to pay Sorrell $1.7 million. Choudhry is the I. Michael Heyman professor of law at Berkeley where he remains a tenured professor in good standing.
Faruqi & Faruqi partner Juan Monteverde In 2015, a federal jury in New York found Monteverde partially liable in a case brought by former associate Alexandra Marchuk for creating a hostile work environment at the securities boutique. Marchuk, a Vanderbilt Law School graduate who alleged Monteverde groped her and made sexual comments in front of co-workers, won a $140,000 judgment. She had sought $13 million. Marchuk and the firm later settled the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Sullivan & Cromwell Then-associate Aaron Charney sued the firm in 2007, alleging that it discriminated against him and subjected him to “lewd and illegal” conduct because he was gay. The parties confidentially settled later that year, after it was revealed that Charney boiled and smashed with a hammer his computer’s hard drive. Charney said he was compelled to do so after a meeting with the firm about settling.
Holland & Knight partner Douglas Wright The Tampa tax lawyer was promoted to chief operating partner in 2004 despite sexual harassment allegations by as many as nine women lawyers at the firm. After a local newspaper reported that Wright was promoted following an internal investigation that uncovered the harassing conduct, he stepped down from that position. Among other things, Wright allegedly asked women at the firm to feel his “pipes” or biceps. Several associates who in 2006 responded to The American Lawyer’s Midlevel Associate Survey expressed dissatisfaction with the firm’s handling of the matter. Wright is the firm’s current operations and finance partner. Wright did not respond to requests for comment. A firm spokeswoman declined to comment.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman partner Frode Jensen After corporate partner Jensen left Pillsbury in 2002 for Latham & Watkins, then-firm chairwoman Mary Cranston and managing partner Marina Park issued a press release claiming that Jensen’s departure came on the heels of sexual harassment allegations that involved him, and a significant decline in his productivity. Jensen responded with a $45 million defamation suit naming the firm, Cranston, Park and partner John Pritchard. Among other things, the suit claimed that a number of Pillsbury partners had been accused of sexual harassment and had never had the allegations publicly disclosed by the firm. The two sides confidentially settled the case in 2003. Pillsbury issued a statement at the time of the deal that said Frode was a valued and respected member of the firm and was one of the firm’s most productive corporate partners.
President Bill Clinton Former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones alleged that then-Gov. Bill Clinton in 1991 exposed himself to her and propositioned her. Clinton settled with her in 1999 for $850,000. That same year, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright of the Eastern District of Arkansas found Clinton in civil contempt in the case and ordered him to pay $1,202 for providing misleading testimony about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton later settled an ethics complaint initiated by Wright. His Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. In 2001, Clinton resigned from practicing before the U.S. Supreme Court amid the possibility of being barred from it following the sex scandal involving Lewinsky.
Baker & McKenzie partner Martin Greenstein Legal secretary Rena Weeks alleged in 1991 that Greenstein, an IP attorney, repeatedly harassed her by groping her, lunging at her and pouring M&Ms down her breast pocket. After Weeks’ suit was filed, several other women who worked at the firm claimed he had sexually harassed them. A San Francisco jury in 1994 awarded her a record-breaking $7.1 million in punitive damages, determining that Baker & McKenzie knew about Greenstein’s pattern of harassing women but failed to address it. The award was later reduced to $3.5 million. The verdict was upheld on appeal.
New York Chief Judge Sol Wachtler In 1993, Wachtler was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for threatening to kidnap the daughter of his former lover, Joy Silverman. Prosecutors accused Wachtler, once considered a strong candidate for New York governor, of using “his power, influence and resources as chief judge” to threaten and harass Silverman, her 14-year-old daughter and Silverman’s boyfriend. Wachtler, quoted by Tom Wolfe in “The Bonfire of the Vanities” for saying “a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’ if that’s what you wanted,” pleaded guilty only to threatening to kidnap Silverman’s daughter.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas After President George H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to the high court in 1991, an FBI interview with Anita Hill, who previously worked with Thomas at the U.S. Department of Education and the EEOC, was leaked to the press, and Hill was called to testify at Thomas’ reopened Senate confirmation hearings. Hill testified that Thomas, after she refused to go out with Thomas, talked about sex at work, including women having sex with animals and “his own sexual prowess.” Hill described one instance in which Thomas asked, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?” Thomas testified that the accusations were false. He was confirmed by a 52-48 vote.