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Fired Kasowitz First-Year Sues for $77M, Says Firm Didn’t Appreciate His ‘Superior Legal Mind’

Posted Aug 16, 2011 5:37 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A first-year associate fired by Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman in May after he emailed partners about his "superior legal mind" and asked for more responsibility has filed suit against the law firm seeking $77 million in damages.

Gregory Berry, who says he started work at the firm last September after earning his law degree at the University of Pennsylvania, alleges he was told by a partner that he had "burned bridges" by sending the email, reports Reuters.

In it, Berry stated: "It has become clear that I have as much experience and ability as an associate many years my senior, as much skill writing and a superior legal mind to most I have met," according to his New York state court complaint, which was filed Monday in Manhattan.

It asserts claims for negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract and wrongful termination, contending that the firm lied about its work environment and engaged in unethical behavior, according to the Am Law Daily and Reuters.

The Am Law Daily provides a copy of Berry's 50-page complaint (PDF), which also names two partners as defendants and accuses them of tortious interference with his work and career prospects and intentional infliction of emotional distress . Berry said he sent the email to seek more assignments, the legal publication notes, after a run-in with a partner over Berry's apparent unwillingness to work on a document review project with a then-associate who is now a partner.

In the email, Berry noted that his 15 years of experience working with software in San Francisco prior to law school gave him additional skills.

He seeks $25 million in damages from the 350-attorney New York-based firm, another $2 million from the defendant partners and $50 million in punitive damages, according to Reuters.

He is presently working as a solo practitioner in New York City.

The law firm's managing partner, Mitchell Schrage, called the suit frivolous, and said Berry got a substantial severance payment and signed a release. Berry said the severance was two months' pay and continued access to his work email account, the Am Law Daily reports.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog also has a story.

Updated on Aug. 17 to reflect that Berry's suit was filed on Monday and link to his law firm website and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog post.

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