Law Firms

Ropes & Gray is accused of 'unrelenting' workload that caused UK barrister's meltdown at work

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A London barrister has sued Ropes & Gray for an alleged “unrelenting” workload that left her unable to continue with her career.

The barrister, Joanna Torode, 46, said working conditions at Ropes & Gray were “horrific” after an exodus from her financial crimes team that happened shortly after she joined the law firm in June 2017.

The Evening Standard, the Daily Mail and the U.S. Sun have coverage of the allegations.

Torode was the only English-qualified lawyer still on the team, and the increased workload led to working conditions that were “chaotic, stressful and pressurized,” according to the writ filed with the High Court in London.

“Not only would she frequently be the last lawyer on her floor to leave in the evening, as well as frequently working over weekends, but the intensity and pressure of her work was significantly intensified given the absence of any effective support at junior and senior level and the absence of any effective teamworking,” her barrister wrote.

Torode was showing “incipient signs” of major depression by late November, according to the allegations summarized by the U.K. media. When Torode was told at Christmas 2017 that two colleagues had received promotions, but she had not, she became visibly upset and started “sobbing,” the writ alleges.

Torode was hospitalized in April 2018 after she was told that she would face a disciplinary hearing for a media interview that could have been interpreted as criticizing her client. She participated in the interview when she was struggling to cope with the “overwhelming demands” of her work, according to the allegations.

Torode currently has a major depressive disorder and is unlikely to be able to return to the legal profession, according to the claim. Torode currently runs yoga classes to raise money for children in India, according to the Daily Mail.

Ropes & Gray counters that barristers are well paid, and it is normal for them to work long hours. The workload was “neither out of the norm nor excessive,” the firm said in its legal papers.

The firm also contends that it was typical for Torode to become upset and angry when she didn’t get what she wanted.

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