Lawsuit: Chadbourne’s Women Partners Earned Fraction of What Men Earned

Female partners at Chadbourne & Parke earned approximately 72 percent as much as their male counterparts for three straight years from 2013 to 2015, according to a statistical analysis by a former and current Chadbourne partner who have filed a proposed gender discrimination federal class-action against the firm in Manhattan.

The numbers were disclosed after a federal judge overseeing the case released a partially unredacted version of the plaintiffs’ memorandum of law in support of conditional class-certification. 

Based on their statistical analysis of partner base pay as determined by the firm’s points system, women in the firm’s partnership ranks earned:

  • On average, 71.5 percent of what the men earned in 2013, 72 percent in 2014, and 72.1 percent in 2015.
  • In 2016, those women saw a slight bump in their relative compensation, earning on average 79 percent of what their male colleagues did.
  • Additionally, in 2015 only 28 percent of female partners received bonuses, compared to 44 percent of men, the plaintiffs allege.

“We see a systemic gender disparity, and that’s the consistent message from the years 2013 to 2016,” Ali Harwin of Sanford Heisler, attorney for the plaintiffs, told Big Law Business. “The slight difference in the particular number for 2016 doesn’t change the fact that there’s a systemic problem at Chadbourne.”

A representative for Chadbourne could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Chadbourne is being sued by Kerrie Campbell and Jaroslawa Johnson, who allege they were paid less than men who did the same amount of work in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act.

Campbell, who is still a partner at the firm, first brought the case in August. Johnson, a former partner who managed the firm’s now-defunct Kiev office, joined in the fall. A third lawyer, Mary Yelenick, who retired from the firm at the end of 2016 after 35 years including time as a partner and head of the product liability practice group, has also asked to join the suit.

The salary analysis in the memorandum is based on a calculation of points, which were awarded to partners by the firm’s management committee. Those points were then multiplied by a set per-point dollar value to determine partner compensation, according to the plaintiffs. The parts of the memorandum that specify exact salary amounts remain redacted.

Chadbourne is in the process of merging with Norton Rose & Fulbright, a transaction expected to close in the second quarter of 2017 according to both firms’ announcement. David Sanford, the lead plaintiffs’ attorney, has said he intends to name Norton Rose as a defendant in the suit, in addition to the current defendants which include current and former partners in management and Chadbourne & Parke.

Note: Updated to include link and embed of plaintiffs’ memorandum of law, provided by Bloomberg Law.  

Campbell v. Chadbourne & Parke LLP, Docket No. 1-16-cv-06832 (S.D.N.Y. Aug 31, 2016)

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