Holland & Knight – John K. Weir Termination

In 1 on January 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm

EEOC arguing that (some) law partners are merely employees

In a discussion of [partner] John K. Weir's termination from Holland & Knight, Anthony Lin wrote the following text:

Negotiations over the terms of Weir's withdrawal continued for over a year, during which time he claims he objected that the "right-sizing program" seemed aimed at terminating "older non-management partners who were perceived to be unproductive financially, and that [Weir] was being included in the program because of his age (then 55), and because of his being disliked by certain members of management due to his refusal to allow the issue of the 'etherized' $5,000,000 premium to be swept under the rug."

The firm's board of directors voted to expel Weir at the beginning of November 2002 but offered to rescind the expulsion if he agreed to withdraw immediately. He refused by e-mail on Nov. 15 and got Cannon's memo the next day.

The firm does not deny that it has engaged in some "right-sizing" of its staff.

"Like all successful businesses, Holland & Knight must continually adapt and adjust to changes in the global economy and business environment," said Schoening. "In 2002, the firm took a variety of actions to achieve operating efficiencies and better position ourselves for strategic growth, including a modest reduction in the number of our lawyers and administrative staff."

Lin mentioned another case:

Such policies, official and unofficial, have become a major source of controversy across the profession. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Chicago's Sidley Austin over its alleged demotion of around 30 partners on the basis of age. Though partners have traditionally been considered employers exempt from anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC is claiming Sidley's highly centralized management rendered partners employees.

Lin also disclosed the manner of Weir's departure:

The enclosed memo from firm General Counsel L. Kinder Cannon stated that Weir, a partner at Holland & Knight and its New York predecessor for over 20 years, was expelled from the firm retroactive to Nov. 4, 2002. He was instructed to never again return to the Manhattan office he had left the evening before at 6 p.m.

Weir says he left behind active client files as well as a desk, chairs and lamps given to him by his late mother. He says he later found out his office furniture was distributed among other lawyers at the firm.


Posted via email from HKLaw Investigation


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