Female Law Partner’s Gender Bias Suit Against Her Current Employer Raises Concerns of Pay Equality

Woman smilingKerrie L. Campbell filed suit against her current employer, the law firm Chadbourne & Parke, alleging that she was shut out of leadership positions and paid far less than male partners at her level. According to Ms. Campbell, Chadbourne’s management committee, which determines the compensation for the firm’s partners, is made up of five men, who award male partners more points, which translates into higher dollar compensation, than they do to women. After complaining to the managing partner of pay inequality, Ms. Campbell alleges that she was told her employment would end at the end of August and her pay was substantially reduced to that of an entry-level associate. Other women have filed similar suits against their large law firm employers. Last month, Traci M. Ribeiro sued her firm Sedgwick, a large San Francisco-based law firm, alleging that the “male-dominated culture” resulted in female lawyers being denied equal pay and equal promotions. Similarly, Kamee Verdrager’s case against her former employer Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsly and Popeo of Boston is set for trial on her gender discrimination claims. Ms. Verdrager contends that the firm reduced her seniority by two years — which affected her level of pay — then later fired her.

In 2014, Sky Analytics, which provides spend management software to corporate legal departments, released its first-ever gender study using actual billing records from law firms. The study, along with a National Association of Women Lawyers study on gender biases in the legal profession, highlighted the pay disparity between men and women. We blogged about these studies in 2014.

Hopefully, the publicity surrounding these lawsuits, along with the 2014 studies on gender biases in the legal profession, will empower other women to continue coming forward and motivate law firms to cease their unequal billing practices.

Female Lawyer’s Gender-Bias Suit Challenges Law Firm Pay Practices by Elizabeth Olsonaug of The New York Times. Published August 31, 2016.