Kerrie Campbell - Speaker - Alliance of Women Trial Lawyers

Equal Pay Pioneer Reflects On What It’s Like To Sue A Biglaw Firm

Kerrie Campbell thinks it’s everyone’s responsibility to challenge blatant inequality

Even if you don’t remember the name Kerrie Campbell, chances are you’ve read a story (or two or three) about her. She is the former Chadbourne & Parke partner who took the world of Biglaw by storm when she sued her firm over a gender pay gap.

Styled as a purported class action, the case took on a total of three named plaintiffs before it was settled. Chadbourne, the firm Campbell sued, no longer exists — it was swallowed up in a merger with Norton Rose, but her experience taking on some of the best in the legal profession is illuminating. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Campbell, and she was happy to shine the light on what it is like to call out a Biglaw firm in court.

Initially, I wanted to find out from Campbell what is was like the moment she realized she believed she was being paid less than her male counterparts. Campbell said she first had an inkling something was wrong with her compensation way back in her first year as a lateral partner. The firm circulated a year-end ranking of partner compensation — revealing the pecking order as it were — and given the amount of work she’d been billing she just knew something was wrong — a “shocking revelation” was how Campbell characterized it. And it was a real eye opening moment for Campbell as a lateral partner with 30 years of Biglaw experience and a solid book of business.

Campbell said she made the decision to sue her former firm when she realized merely leaving the firm or just complaining about it would never be enough to move the needle. Year after year studies and reports detailing the gender pay gap in the legal industry are published but little changes; Campbell asked herself “what am I going to do about it?” That question forced Campbell’s hand, in a manner of speaking, and she knew she had little choice but to file a lawsuit against her firm.

As one might imagine, the reality of litigating against a giant law firm is stressful — and even seasoned litigators noted how contentious this suit was. As a trial lawyer herself, Campbell said she wasn’t surprised at the way the suit went down. She says the way defendants in discrimination cases tend to react to a lawsuit is largely predictable and that was something she was ready for. But the way that her local professional community reacted to the lawsuit was a little surprising. Campbell said that, for the most part, professional colleagues in D.C. were hesitant to discuss, or even acknowledge, the case while it was ongoing. But interestingly, the converse was also true. People she’d never met from around the country reached out to Campbell expressing their support and letting her know they were rooting for her. Through it all Campbell says she has no regrets about filing the lawsuit.

Campbell believes there is more than just a culture of secrecy regarding the inner working of firms — including partner compensation — that allows a gender pay gap to exist. In fact, she says there is a “laundry list” of factors that keep it alive. One of the biggest issues she identifies is the one/two punch of complacency and silence. There is so much at risk for women at law firms, and they are so busy growing their own practice, they have little time to worry about the broader issue of a gender pay gap. But Campbell says acceptance of the status quo is unacceptable, and women need to speak up, support those who do, and challenge blatant inequality.

There are, however, structural barriers that sometimes prevent women from openly challenging the existing system. One of the biggest issues Campbell sees on that front is the existence of mandatory arbitration clauses — in employment or partnership agreements. This often means that even if a women is courageous enough to bring the issue to her employer’s attention, no one knows about it and there is no public debate (or accountability) about the firm’s practices. Campbell is a litigator at heart, and she believes access to courts (and the accompanying judicial scrutiny) is key for real change.

These days Campbell has left the world of Biglaw behind. She’s building her own firmand is excited to represent clients in a variety of matters. One of the most interesting representations she has is working with the legal defense fund for Time’s Up!, and she continues to be a passionate advocate for gender equality in the workplace. This seems like the perfect next chapter for an equal pay pioneer.

Kathryn Rubino
Above The Law

Hare Wynn’s Ashley Peinhardt Nominated as 2018 Ones to Watch: Top Influencers Under 40 by Birmingham Magazine

Birmingham Magazine is a popular publication that focuses on events and noteworthy people in and around Birmingham, Ala. Each year, the publication asks readers to nominate the Magic City’s most influential professionals in a variety of industries.

Hare Wynn is honored to announce attorney Ashley Peinhardt was nominated and ultimately selected to the 2018 Ones to Watch: Top Influencers Under 40 list by Birmingham Magazine. This particular title is granted to the “best and brightest young professionals” in the city. Peinhardt will be featured in the magazine’s special “Young Professional” July issue.

After earning her J.D. in 2010 from the Cumberland School of Law, Ashley began focusing her professional practice at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP. She has rapidly earned herself a reputation among clients and her peers in the legal industry for her ability to successfully manage complex litigation cases, class actions, and catastrophic injury claims. The first jury trial she handled for a plaintiff ended in a $15 million verdict, which was affirmed by The Alabama Supreme Court and marked the largest damages judgement in the state in the last 20 years.

The McDivitt Law Firm Representing Families Impacted By Water Contamination

The McDivitt Law Firm is holding an informational open house for those affected by contaminated water in the Fountain/Security/Widefield area.

The law firm is representing all families affected by the water in a potential Class-Action lawsuit against the manufacturer of firefighting foam which contains high levels of perfluorinated compounds, also known as PFCs.

“People of Widefield, Security, and Fountain are concerned about being exposed to contamination and we want to make a difference and help them,” said attorney Kelly Hyman.

The fire retardant was used by the Air Force and seeped into the ground water supply affecting water for those three communities in 2015. There are a number of manufacturing companies named in the lawsuit, but no mention or intention of going after the Air Force that actually used the toxic foam.

Studies have been ongoing into the long-term effects of those who have been exposed to the toxins, as researches were recruiting volunteers to study effects earlier in the year.

“I feel like I’m an individual who’s healthy at this time, active and all that, and what if this product is still in my system and starts to affect me,” said Shelly Laborde, a Widefield resident.

Time is running out for those who want to get in on the lawsuit, so the informational open house will continue through the weekend at the McDivitt Law Firm at 19 East Cimarron Street. A judge is expected to decide this summer whether the class-action lawsuit can proceed.

Written By Rachael Wardwell

Kelly is an attorney with McDivitt Law Firm in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Kelly attended law school at the University of Florida and after law school She worked for numerous Federal judges. For the last six years Kelly has focused on mass tort cases. Kelly chose to work for McDivitt Law Firm because of the Firm’s reputation for professionalism and that they truly work to help people during during difficult times.