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Lawyer Claims Panic Attack Led Her to Accept $350K Settlement from Clifford Chance

Posted Mar 26, 2010 10:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A former Clifford Chance associate seeking to reopen a $350,000 bias settlement with the law firm claims a panic attack and pressure from her lawyer led her to accept the deal.

Caroline Memnon made the allegations in court papers filed under seal, but the Am Law Daily has copies of confidential settlement records that were mistakenly posted on the federal courts’ Pacer website. According to the documents, Memnon said she suffered the panic attack when a magistrate judge overseeing a settlement hearing imposed time constraints and her lawyer pressured her to accept the offer.

Memnon, who is Haitian, had claimed in her suit that Clifford Chance refused to give her quality billable work because she is black and then fired her when she complained. Memnon said she then got job offers from Chadbourne & Parke and Manatt Phelps & Phillips, but they were later withdrawn after Clifford Chance blackballed her in the legal community. She finally landed a job at Sullivan & Worcester, but she was fired a month later, her suit said.

According to today’s Am Law Daily story, a partial transcript of Memnon’s November 2009 settlement talks with Clifford Chance and Sullivan & Worcester were mistakenly posted on Pacer earlier this week. The documents were removed after Clifford Chance and its law firm, Proskauer Rose, sent an urgent letter requesting they be taken down.

Updated at 1:29 p.m. to clarify that Memnon's suit claimed racial bias.

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