Struggling LeClairRyan faces suits over closed office, alleged gender bias
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Updated: As LeClairRyan deals with a string of departures, the firm faces lawsuits from a landlord seeking payments and a former marketing professional who alleges gender bias.
The dissolution process is already beginning, anonymous sources tell Law.com. Lawyers at the firm have been told a dissolution committee is being formed, and some staff members were laid off in the last week, according to the publication’s sources.
A landlord for LeClairRyan’s office in Williamsburg, Virginia, filed court papers about three weeks ago that contend that the law firm didn’t make required payments, Law.com reports. The four LeClairRyan lawyers in that office left in February to join another firm.
The suit by the marketing professional, Marci Keatts, said she was paid less than a male colleague, even after she supervised him as part of a promotion. Law.com has coverage, along with Bloomberg Law, Richmond BizSense and Law360.
Keatts filed the lawsuit Friday in Richmond, Virginia.
LeClairRyan currently has about 190 lawyers, down from 353 three years ago. LeClairRyan leaders said last week the firm was considering its options after the departure of firm co-founder and name partner Gary LeClair. Sources told several publications that law firm staff members had been told that they should start looking for jobs.
Keatts was among more than 300 nonlawyer employees of LeClairRyan who were transferred last to ULX Partners, a company created as part of a joint venture with alternative service provider UnitedLex. The employees were then leased back to LeClairRyan.
Both ULX Partners and LeClairRyan are named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Richmond, Virginia. Keatts said the firm has been controlled historically by male leaders who favored male employees in compensation decisions.
Female employees have been reluctant to complain because “those who question senior management have not lasted long at the firm,” the suit says.
A second suit alleging gender bias in compensation by the law firm produced an arbitration award of nearly $275,000 in back pay and $20,000 in emotional distress damages. Former LeClairRyan partner Michele Burke Craddock had filed the suit and sought court confirmation of the award last year.
Keatts and Craddock are represented by the same lawyer, Harris Butler.
Updated Aug. 1 at 3:40 p.m. to state that the firm has reportedly formed a dissolution committee.