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They’ve Got Next: Consumer Litigation Fresh Face Michelle Lamy

Feb. 28, 2022, 9:45 AM

Michelle Lamy pursued a career in law so she could have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. And she says that litigating employment cases and working with her clients toward the common goal of changing the workplace for the better is “truly satisfying.”

Specializing in employment and antitrust litigation at Lieff Cabraser, Lamy says she is proudest of her work representing a class of 11,000 female former employees who allege Alphabet Inc.‘s Google violated the California Equal Pay Act by paying them less than comparable male employees.

The women, mostly software engineers, also allege that company policy of asking job candidates their salary histories perpetuated lower pay for women, who historically were paid less than men.

Lamy helped the plaintiffs over a major hurdle last May, playing a significant role on the team that won class certification before Judge Andrew Y.S. Cheng of the San Francisco County Superior Court, who said their pay discrimination claims can be decided using common evidence.

The class consists of women who worked at Google after 2013.

“It’s a very good signal” that equal pay issues can be addressed on a class basis moving forward in other cases, Lamy said.

“We do a lot of work in industries that can feel tight-knit,” Lamy said, adding that she has “tremendous respect” for the women who “come forward to have their story told and to seek justice for themselves and for other people” who are experiencing discrimination despite the potential risk to their own careers.

“I can’t imagine a better way to honor them than to use my education to try to move that ball forward,” said Lamy, a Stanford Law School graduate.

The Google plaintiffs’ team also includes Kelly M. Dermody, managing partner of Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office, and partner Anne B. Shaver, as well as James M. Finberg and Eve H. Cervantez from San Francisco firm Altshuler Berzon LLP.

The case is set for trial in January 2023.

On the antitrust side, Lamy worked with Lieff Cabraser partners Brendan P. Glackin and Katherine L. Benson to achieve a $120 million class settlement in a suit alleging Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Novartis AG unit Sandoz Inc. manipulated the process by which federal regulators authorize generic drugs to ensure they were the only producers of generic enoxaparin, a blood thinner.

Lieff Cabraser represented Nashville General Hospital and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 37 Health & Security Plan on behalf of hospitals, insurers, and uninsured consumers who said they overpaid for the drug.

The deal received final approval in 2020 from Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The parties agreed to settle on the eve of trial in 2019 following four years of litigation.

Lamy was brought on board in the final months to prepare for trial and then to help negotiate the settlement.

Much of her success, Lamy says, is owed to her mentor Dermody, previously the head of the employment practice group. From the time Lamy started at Lieff Cabraser in 2016, Dermody gave her “substantive opportunities that are not typically offered to an attorney in her first or second year of practice,” such as participation in oral arguments and important depositions, Lamy said.

“I am so lucky to have a mentor who has contributed as much of her own time as she has to helping me build my confidence in that way,” Lamy said.

Mentorship has become a focus for Lamy as well, according to Dermody.

“While Michelle is an authentically warm person, the thing that stands out for me is how much effort she makes behind the scenes to bring along her more junior colleagues, including associates outside our own firm on co-counsel teams, so that they too can shine,” Dermody said. “I can’t imagine a better colleague.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com; Carmen Castro-Pagán at ccastro-pagan@bloomberglaw.com; Lisa Helem at lhelem@bloombergindustry.com