After Munger, Tolles & Olson announced over the weekend that it would no longer require any of its employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe quickly followed suit late Monday afternoon.
“Orrick has decided that we will no longer require any employees, including associates, to sign any arbitration agreements,” the firm said in a statement to The American Lawyer that Orrick also tweeted out.
The focus on mandatory arbitration clauses in Big Law began on March 24 when Ian Samuel, a former Jones Day associate and current lecturer at Harvard Law School, took to Twitter to reveal a copy of Munger Tolles’ proposed arbitration agreement for its summer associates.
The leaked documents require Munger Tolles’ summer associates to arbitrate all employment-related claims, including those that fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 such as sexual harassment. After the agreement made its rounds on social media, the firm issued a statement retracting its position and announcing the elimination of such arbitration provisions.
That announcement by Munger Tolles and the conversation around it prompted Orrick to accelerate a review of its use of mandatory arbitration, according to the Am Law 100 firm.
“We have been reviewing our sexual harassment policies generally in response to the #MeToo conversation and as part of our commitment to being a best place to work and attracting the best talent,” the firm said in its statement.
Orrick said its new policy will allow its employees, including associates, to decide whether or not to pursue arbitration should a workplace issue arise.
“Because we believe arbitration often can be advantageous to the employee, if an employee brings a claim, we will offer her or him the option of opting into arbitration at that time,” the firm said in its statement.
Orrick’s new policy will apply retroactively to all employees and associates but does not apply to partners, the firm added. Orrick is currently representing Winston & Strawn in a dispute with former partner Constance Ramos, who earlier this year saw her gender bias case against the firm be sent to arbitration.