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Older Winston & Strawn Partner Settles Pay Suit

Posted Nov 20, 2007 7:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A 74-year-old partner at Winston & Strawn has settled his lawsuit that claimed the law firm violated an agreement to exempt him from a firm policy that reduced partner pay after age 65.

Terms of the deal, reached shortly before trial, were not released, the New York Law Journal reports. “The settlement ends an unusual suit that had drawn much attention to the issue of how firms handle aging rainmakers, many more of whom are now challenging firm policies that envision retirement at age 65 or earlier,” the story reports.

The suit by Anthony LoFrisco claimed the firm violated an agreement to continue paying him based on billings to General Electric Co., a company he brought to the law firm because of his relationship with GE Chairman Jack Welch.

Under a 1994 written agreement that expired in 2001, LoFrisco had received 13 percent of GE billings. The original agreement called for his rainmaking pay to be lowered by 25 percent when he turned 67 in 2001, and by another 25 percent each of the next three years.

But LoFrisco renegotiated the deal. In a new 2001 contract the firm canceled the 25 percent decompression and agreed to “consider” requests to do the same in subsequent years. The firm continued to pay him fully until 2003, causing his pay to drop from $2.3 million in 2002 to $350,000 in 2004.

A judge had dismissed most of LoFrisco’s suit in 2005, saying his agreement gave the firm full discretion to decide his pay. A New York appeals court revived the suit, saying the language of the agreement was ambiguous.

LoFrisco will resign from the firm next week.

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