On May 8, 2019, Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly M. Dermody addressed Big Law’s issues with #MeToo on a panel at the American Bar Association’s National Conference on Professional Responsibility held in Vancouver, British Columbia, noting how many high profile firms are guilty of allowing their highest paid and most powerful “rainmaker” lawyers to participate in the sexual harassment and undercutting of women and minority lawyers in the workplace without repercussion.
As reported by Law360, Dermody, a nationally recognized expert on gender discrimination and employment law and Chair of Lieff Cabraser’s Employment Law practice group, sharply questioned the efficacy of anti-harassment training, calling it a “failure” in its attempt at changing toxic work environments. She pointed to an “apparatus of secrecy” in which attorneys and HR executives will often conspire to protect confidentiality in anticipation of a sexual harassment lawsuit rather than asking questions that could possibly “lead to uncomfortable places.”
“Lawyers’ own self-regard is hindering more significant progress for the industry,” noted Dermody.
“I’m here to tell you that racism and sexism are alive and well in our law firms and the profession,” she said. “Lawyers think they’re fair, that they judge facts and apply rules, and therefore they’re very hard to coach and to help understand how they contribute to cultures that are completely toxic.”
About Kelly Dermody
The Chair of Lieff Cabraser’s employment practice group and Managing Partner of Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office, Kelly M. Dermody specializes in class and collective actions on behalf of plaintiffs in employment and consumer cases, including gender discrimination cases against Google, Microsoft, KPMG and Goldman Sachs. Her additional case work includes wage suppression claims against technology, healthcare, and academic institutions; overtime and lost pay lawsuits for low-wage workers, I/T professionals, and foreign nationals working for American corporations; and ERISA claims that she has tried on behalf of employees and retirees for pension plan abuses.