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Chadbourne Partner Suing Firm Answers Three Questions

Oct. 27, 2016, 9:03 PM

On Thursday morning, the plaintiffs in a gender discrimination class-action lawsuit against Chadbourne & Parke filed an amended complaint that levels new allegations against six individual partners, including managing partner Andrew Giaccia and other members of the management committee.

As we noted in an earlier story , the suit casts the management committee as a “a centralized brotherhood” that discriminated against women lawyers at the firm when determining pay, and also in distributing power.

So far, the firm has vehemently denied the allegations, but issued a statement that it welcomes a chance to respond to the specific accusations in the amended complaint.

The suit was originally filed by Kerrie Campbell, a partner who continues to work in the Washington, D.C. office. She has now been joined by a former partner, Jaroslawa Z. Johnson, who managed the firm’s Kiev office for nearly ten years until leaving in 2014. Now she runs a private equity firm and has no affiliation with Chadbourne & Parke.

We asked Campbell by email for an update on what her working conditions look like.

Big Law Business: Do you have any comment on Jaroslawa Johnson’s decision to join the suit?

Campbell: Ms. Johnson is a highly accomplished and intelligent professional who attests to ingrained and blatant gender pay discrimination at Chadbourne. Although our paths never crossed at the Firm we both experienced the same “boys club” culture, pay discrimination and retaliation for calling out the all-male management committee’s secret decisions favoring male partners with higher compensation and bonuses compared to similarly and higher performing female partners. Our experiences are not unique among female partners at Chadbourne, a number of whom have left the Firm. I believe Ms. Johnson is courageous for joining the lawsuit, challenging the unacceptable “boys club” culture and publicly taking a stand to end gender discrimination at the Firm.

Big Law Business: When we last spoke over the summer, you said you’ve never worked in a colder environment than what it’s like now at Chadbourne. Has that changed at all? (for better or worse)

Campbell: As detailed in the Amended Complaint, male management has not uttered a verbal word to me since April 1 -- radio silence -- despite my repeated invitations and efforts to sit down and discuss important issues that need to be sorted out under the uniquely awkward circumstances created by management itself. As professionals in the business of effectively communicating to resolve disputes, management’s silent treatment strikes me as unproductive and punitive. For better or worse, male management sets the tone for the entire Firm.

Big Law Business: Can you tell me more about the new incident alleged in the complaint, about the postcard with the Mandela quote being taken down from your office?

Campbell: As noted in the amended complaint, after the original complaint was filed, I had placed a 5" x 7" post card with Mandela’s call for equality next to the name plate on my exterior office wall. One morning in September, I discovered it had been ripped down and an 8 1/2" x 11" smiley face graphic had been posted on my office wall. I replaced the post card. When the Mandela quote was ripped down a second time, I replaced it again.