Women in the Law
Fired Over Personal Website, Ex-Associate of Major UK Firm Mulls Options
Posted Feb 3, 2009 10:23 PM CST
By Martha Neil
Fired on Friday from her plum position as an associate in the Moscow office of a major London-based law firm, Deidre Dare spent the weekend recuperating.
But now the 40-something former Allen & Overy associate is already exploring other options, including but not limited to writing a "Sexpat" column for a Russian newspaper and filing a sexual harassment suit against her ex-firm in an American court, reports the Telegraph.
Meanwhile, she is pursuing an appeal within the magic circle firm of the internal hearing at which, she tells ABAJournal.com, she was found to have been insubordinate for initially balking at an order to stop publishing her novel, Expat, in serial installments on her personal website. The firm also contended its reputation was harmed by the racy website. The law firm directive to stop writing, Dare says, was made in response to her earlier complaint of sexual harassment by an A&O attorney.
"The company thinks everything I have written is all true, and it's not," she is quoted as saying to the British newspaper. "Like all writing, some is true and some isn't. There is casual sex, drinking and in Moscow I did all those things, but who cares? Their claim is that I brought the firm into disrepute and they are very upset."
In a telephone interview today with ABAJournal.com, Dare says she believes she has a basis to sue A&O in the U.S. under the Supreme Court's 1945 decision in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, because her now-former law firm does business here.
Although the online novel has been described in news accounts as pornographic, Dare points out that it isn't graphic and says it is more accurately described as a romantic adventure story.
Her website does, however, include some photos of Dare in her underwear, the Telegraph and the London Times note.
Now that she is no longer with A&O, she started working on the next installment today after a weekend spent watching old Seinfeld television episodes: "Any kind of crisis, Seinfeld helps," she says. "You do laugh even when you think you won't."
A 1989 graduate of Columbia Law School, Dare, who is an American and is admitted in New York, says she has been living and working as a lawyer overseas since 2001. After initially moving to Australia, she later went to London, Singapore and Russia. In her job at Allen & Overy, she worked as an international finance lawyer.
As the daughter of a sociology professor born in 1918 who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, she feels strongly about not simply giving in to an employer's demands that she stop publishing her own material on her own personal website, Dare says.
"In my family, we just don't stop writing because someone tells us to. There was no good reason," she tells ABAJournal.com, adding that A&O seemed "kind of shocked" when she didn't immediately capitulate.
"You're my employer; why can you tell me what to do in my personal time? I just don't get it," she says.
Earlier ABAJournal.com coverage: