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Paul Weiss Names More Diverse Partner Class After Past Blowback

Dec. 6, 2019, 9:20 PM

After vowing to do better following blowback over its 2018 partner class, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison says it’s making good on its promise with the announcement of a more diverse class this year.

The Wall Street firm said that it has elected seven new partners, three of which are women.

Rachael Coffey, Alexia Korberg and Brette Tannenbaum join Jonathan Ashtor, Caith Kushner, Kyle Seifried, and Austin Witt as Paul Weiss’ newly minted partner class, effective Jan. 1. All are resident in the New York office.

“We’re proud of this year’s partnership class as well as the extraordinarily talented partners we added laterally this year, which reflect the true diversity of our firm,” Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp said.

Last December, the firm faced a wave of public criticism after it published a LinkedIn post with photos of its new 12-partner class. The vast majority of the new partners were white and male. The firm removed the post shortly thereafter.

In a statement to Bloomberg Law shortly after the snafu, Karp said he regretted the gender and racial imbalance and said the 2018 class was the result of “an idiosyncratic demographic pool.” He assured it would not be repeated.

Law firms have faced criticism for years over the lack of diversity in their ranks, with groups like the American Bar Association sounding the alarm. According to a Bloomberg Law analysis from last year, across the top 15 law firms by revenue, as ranked by the American Lawyer, only 38 percent of attorneys in partner classes publicized in 2018 were women.

As of Jan. 1 when the new partner promotions take effect, women will comprise 26% of Paul Weiss’ partnership, all equity partners. This is compared to women making up 23.36% of partners at law firms, according to the National Association for Law Placement 2018 report on diversity.

In the past year, Paul Weiss said it’s made diversity a top priority, not just in its partner class but in its hiring decisions. So far in 2019, the firm has added seven high-profile lateral partners, five of which were women.

Loretta Lynch, the first black woman to serve as U.S. attorney general, joined the firm as a partner in its litigation department. Former WilmerHale partner and federal prosecutor Jeannie Rhee joined the firm as litigation partner after two years on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Paul Weiss also added Kirkland & Ellis private equity specialist Sarah Stasny as well as Jean McLoughlin and Laura Turano from Davis Polk & Wardwell as partners in New York.

The firm also launched its Supreme Court and appellate practice earlier this year with the addition of Kannon Shanmugam, who came from Williams & Connolly, and welcomed back Andrew Finch as co-chair of its antitrust practice group after his two-year stint as one of the top lawyers in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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