Ethics Corner: Third Circuit Vindicates Plaintiff's Attorney
Justin M. Swartz and Cara E. Greene. July, 2007. Ethics Corner is a regular contribution by the ABA, Labor & Employment Law Section’s Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee.
The Third Circuit recently overturned a district court order disqualifying a plaintiff’s attorney who had conducted an ex parte interview of the defendant’s administrative assistant. EEOC v. HORA, Inc., No. 05-5393, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 15705 (3d Cir. June 29, 2007) (unpublished decision). Characterizing the disqualification as “draconian,” the Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion because the lawyer did not violate any ethics rules, and, even if she had, there was no prejudice to the defendant.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Jana Barnett, represented Manessta Beverly in a sex harassment and retaliation case against a Days Inn franchise and its management company. During discovery, Barnett conducted an ex parte interview of Debbie Richardson, an administrative assistant at the Days Inn. The district court disqualified Barnett for conducting the interview, finding that she violated Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct (“PRPC”) Rules 4.2, 4.4, and 5.7.
The Third Circuit reversed, holding that Barnett did not violate Rule 4.2 because the administrative assistant was not a member of the organization with whom ex parte contact was forbidden. The Third Circuit recently overturned a district court order disqualifying a plaintiff’s attorney who had conducted an ex parte interview of the defendant’s administrative assistant.
Challenges To Law Firm Mandatory-Retirement Policies
Employment law attorney Cara E. Greene writes about Challenges to Law Firm Mandatory-Retirement Policies. This article originally appeared in Law Journal Newsletters' Accounting and Financial Planning for Law Firms, February 2007. For more information, visit www.ljnonline.com. Authored with Gary Phelan.
A 2006 survey report indicated that 57% of law firms with 100 or more attorneys have mandatory retirement age policies. See, L. Jones “Pitfalls of Mandatory Law Firm Retirement,” National Law Journal, May 24, 2006. But legal challenges to mandatory retirement policies at law firms are likely to become more common as baby boomers reach retirement age.
The debate over whether a law firm can have a mandatory retirement age has focused on the threshold question of whether the “partner” is deemed an “employer” or an “employee.” For each class of lawyer, this article explores possible legal remedies.
Can Law Firm Partners Sue The Firm For Employment Discrimination?
Employment attorneys Wayne Outten and Justin Swartz. This article originally appeared in Law Journal Newsletters' Law Firm Partnership & Benefits Report, February 2004. For more information, visit www.ljnonline.com.
This article will first discuss reasons that law firms, especially large firms, are susceptible to discrimination suits by their partners. Next, it will explain two threshold requirements for law firm partners to sue their firms for employment discrimination. Both of these requirements turn on whether certain partners are deemed employees. Third, the article will discuss the Supreme Court’s Clackamas decision and lower court decisions that preceded Clackamas but used similar analyses. Finally, it will note that,under some federal and state laws, law firms are vulnerable even if their partners are not deemed employees.Discussion of: reasons law firms may be susceptible to discrimination suits by their partners; two required thresholds for filing such a suit; Supreme Court's Clackamas decision; and finally a note on why some law firms are vulnerable even if their partners are not deemed employees.
What are the departing partner’s financial entitlements with respect to firm assets? We turn to that question in this article. Employment attorney Wayne N. Outten and Sean Farhang.
This article originally appeared in Law Journal Newsletters' Law Firm Partnership & Benefits Report, December 2000 and January 2001. For more information, visitwww.ljnonline.com.
We recently contributed an article to this newsletter that addressed when and how a law firm can expel a partner. Whether a partner is expelled or (as more commonly happens) withdraws from the partnership more-or-less voluntarily, the question arises, what are the departing partner’s financial entitlements with respect to firm assets? We turn to that question in this article.
Taking stock of the present state of the law on law partner expulsion. Employment attorney Wayne N. Outten.
This article originally appeared in Law Journal Newsletters' Law Firm Partnership & Benefits Report, September and October 2000. For more information, visitwww.ljnonline.com.
How secure are law partners in their positions when other partners want to expel them from the firm? Historically, the courts have seldom had to address that question. Beginning in the mid-1990s, however, the involuntary expulsion of law partners has been the subject of numerous lawsuits. Thus, the time is ripe to take stock of the present state of the law on law partner expulsion.
The law governing law partner expulsion has substantive and procedural components. The substantive component concerns the reasons for which a law firm may expel a partner, such as, for example, the type of conduct by a partner that might justify expulsion. The procedural component concerns the due process requirements, if any, that a firm must observe in expelling a partner, such as notice and a right to be heard.