Law Firms

Jones Day says gender bias lawsuit painted 'distorted picture'

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Jones Day is responding to a gender bias lawsuit with a statement that cites an “inclusive culture” and a partnership that includes 240 women.

A $200 million lawsuit filed April 3 had alleged that the firm has a “fraternity culture” in which female lawyers have to participate if they hope to get ahead.

The would-be class action said female associates at Jones Day are discriminated against based on gender, pregnancy and maternity. The suit criticized the firm’s secretive system in which partnership and pay decisions are made by the managing partner.

Statistics tell a different story, according to Jones Day.

The majority of female partners at the firm are mothers who took family leaves and often worked flexible schedules, the statement says.

The American Lawyer reports that female lawyers make up just over 26% of the Jones Day partnership, based on a count of 919 partners provided to the publication in 2018. That’s slightly more than the average of 23.36% reported for the nation’s major law firms in 2018 by the National Association for Law Placement.

Jones Day cited these statistics:

• Eighteen out of 35 U.S. lawyers promoted to partnership in January were women, and almost three-quarters of them had taken or were on family leave at the time of promotion. In January 2018, 14 out of 33 U.S. lawyers promoted to partnership were women, and 71% of them had taken family leave.

• Almost 70% of the U.S. women promoted to partnership over the past decade had taken or were on family leave at the time of their promotion to partnership.

• Seventeen of the firm’s offices and regions, including its largest region, are led by female partners, almost all of whom have children.

• The firm’s 17-member partnership committee, which advises on partner admissions and compensation, has five women, all of whom took family leave while working at Jones Day.

• The firm’s largest practice group is co-chaired by a female trial lawyer, and its issues and appeals practice is chaired by a female partner who became the practice leader while working part time.

“These statistics belie the recent claims of six former associates (four unnamed) that women—and, in particular, women who take family leave—cannot succeed at Jones Day,” the statement said. “The claims of pay discrimination—made only ‘on information and belief,’ without any factual support—are equally without merit. The distorted picture of the firm portrayed in the complaint is not Jones Day. We will litigate this case in court, not in the media, and are confident we will prevail.”

The new lawsuit was filed by Sanford Heisler Sharp, which also filed a gender bias lawsuit against the law firm last year on behalf of a fired partner.

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