A Law Firm Puts Its Chefs on Trial

Topics in Legal News 2008/02/25 13:58   Bookmark and Share

Big-time lawyers are pros at waiting for judges' tough decisions, but yesterday afternoon at Nixon Peabody in the District, some may have posted fewer billable hours until results of the firm's 19th annual cook-off were handed down.

The competition pits men against women, which could lead to actionable territory and dangerous stereotyping. Yet, it has helped build camaraderie among all departments, firm employees say, pointing to Nixon Peabody's ranking among Fortune magazine Top 100 Best Companies to Work For, three years running. Still, the trash talk leading up to the cook-off can start two months in advance, when planning meetings and team captains are chosen. Attempts have been made in past years to choose sides differently -- by floor, say, instead of along gender lines. Those negotiations have failed.

Some companies set up tennis or golf tournaments, which can draw more male than female employees. Nixon Peabody's cook-off turns out to attract partners and paralegals alike and is even more popular than the bocce tournaments it has held in the summer.

Not all the women in the firm, which has 216 employees in its Washington office and about 1,725 nationwide, agree on the event's attractions. Women's team co-captain and associate Emily Hargrove, 30, says that although more women than men participate, she still ran into plenty of resistance from women in the firm who said they don't cook; they just make reservations.

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Former partner suing Dorsey & Whitney law firm

Topics in Legal News 2008/02/25 13:56   Bookmark and Share

A former partner in the New York office of Dorsey & Whitney is suing the Minneapolis-based law firm, claiming gender discrimination and violations of the whistleblower act, among other things.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson heard an hour of arguments Tuesday on the Dorsey firm's motion to dismiss Kristan Peters' suit.

Peters began working as a Dorsey partner in January 2007 and left on June 23. At the core of the case is her handling of a trade secrets dispute on behalf of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services in New York. The matter drew media attention in trade publications, largely because of U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer Jr.'s 129-page opinion criticizing Peters' behavior.

According to R. Scott Davies of Briggs and Morgan, who is representing Dorsey, Baier scolded Peters 22 times for her handling of the case. Davies said Peters played fast and loose with the litigation, lied to the court and misrepresented circumstances to the firm's partners.

Peters' lawyer James Kaster countered that the judge's behavior, not Peters', was unusual. The behavior Baer disliked -- such as scheduling a 7-hour deposition over two days and refusing to give bathroom breaks -- is not unusual, Kaster said.

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Supreme Court to hear car search, tribal land cases

Topics in Legal News 2008/02/25 11:22   Bookmark and Share
The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear three cases, including Arizona v. Gant (07-542) where the Court will consider whether "the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement officers to demonstrate a threat to their safety or a need to preserve evidence related to the crime of arrest in order to justify a warrantless vehicular search incident to arrest conducted after the vehicle's recent occupants have been arrested and secured?" Arizona is appealing an Arizona Supreme Court ruling that Rodney Joseph Gant's constitutional rights were violated when police searched his car after he was handcuffed and seated in a police car.

http://www.supremecourtus.gov
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