Kerrie Campbell Voted Out of Chadbourne Partnership

Kerrie Campbell, the lawyer who last August brought claims of gender discrimination against Chadbourne & Parke, was voted out of the firm’s partnership Thursday morning.

In a roll call vote, approximately 70 partners voted in favor of the motion to terminate her partnership interest in the firm. Some partners abstained, and Campbell was the only partner who voted against the motion. The vote, which was announced earlier this month, comes on the eve of Chadbourne’s merger with Norton Rose Fulbright, which is set for this quarter.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, Campbell’s lawyers have framed the expulsion as retaliation for Campbell’s decision to bring a collective action against Chadbourne, which alleges firm management systematically underpaid her and other female partners in comparison to their male counterparts. They tried to block the partnership vote in court, but a Manhattan federal judge on Monday declined to intervene.

Chadbourne has maintained the vote has nothing to do with Campbell’s lawsuit or with the fact that she has been out of the office on medical leave since November. 

“This action was reluctantly taken 14 months after Ms. Campbell was asked to transition her practice to another firm and after numerous efforts to resolve this matter without resorting to such a measure,” a Chadbourne spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.

“However the action may be mischaracterized by her, Ms. Campbell’s decision to sue the Firm and her more recent medical condition were not a basis for today’s outcome and were expressly not considered by the Partners in reaching their decision,” he said. “The bases existed long before her suit.”

David Sanford, Campbell’s lawyer, called the vote a “culmination of a series of retaliatory measures” against Campbell.

“Chadbourne’s vote to expel Ms. Campbell was based on bias and incomplete information,” he said. “The result of the vote is therefore not surprising.”

Sanford said he would soon be filing an amended complaint in the suit to reflect the ouster. The new complaint may also name Norton Rose Fulbright as a defendant, he said.

“A trial in this case, which is very likely to occur, will bring to light the facts, and we are confident the truth will emerge,” said Sanford. The parties so far have had three settlement attempts through mediation, most recently at the beginning of this month, according to Sanford.

Alongside Campbell, two other women are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Jaroslawa Johnson, former head of Chadbourne’s now-defunct Kiev office, joined in the fall, and retired partner Mary Yelenick joined the suit in March.

Campbell is currently seeking employment, according to Sanford. “I think she’s probably open to any number of things,” he said. “I think she’s looking in Big Law and also outside of Big Law.”

Write to Big Law Business at biglawbusiness@bna.com.

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