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Spotlight on Gender Bias in Law Firms

Chadbourne & Parke, a Washington D.C. law firm, is being accused of gender bias and sued for $100 million by Kerrie Campbell. Ms. Campbell has claimed that she came to the firm in 2014 with extensive experience but was paid much less than male partners at her level and shut out of leadership positions. She has claimed that the firm's management committee was made up of five men. It is alleged that these men arbitrarily awarded more points to men than women, which translated into higher compensation for male partners. Ms. Campbell has claimed that 11 of the firm's 18 female partners were given significantly fewer points than the male partners. She claimed to be one of the firm's leading earners and yet received a smaller paycheck with no annual bonus. Thus, she was in the bottom 1/3 for partner pay.

Ms. Campbell claimed to have complained to both the managing partner and the management committee. She asked for a substantial point increase. Her revenue was referred to as a "fluke" and thereafter she has claimed that her litigation support diminished. She was told recently that her practice no longer fit within the firm's goals. As such she was given an employment end date and received reduced associate level pay with no benefits.

Surveys of female partners by the National Association of Women Lawyers show that they typically earn 80% of what male partners earn. Women hold just 18% of large law firm partnerships. Similar suits have recently been brought against Sedgwick, a law firm in San Francisco and Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo in Boston. For its part, Chadbourne & Park have denied the lawsuit's allegations, claiming that Ms. Campbell's suit "is riddled with falsehoods."