Law360 has published an in-depth profile on Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly M. Dermody, named a Class Action MVP and an Employment Law MVP of the Year for 2023.
The profile underscores Kelly’s major achievements over the last year, spotlighting her pivotal role in securing a landmark $215 million settlement in a long-standing gender discrimination lawsuit against Goldman Sachs. Historic for multiple reasons, the settlement is one of the largest discrimination settlements in U.S. history, and is the single-largest gender bias settlement that has occurred in advance of employees winning their case at trial. It is the third-largest gender bias settlement of any kind on record (the only larger ones coming years after the employees won at trial), and is nearly five times larger than the next-largest gender bias class action settlement involving a Wall Street firm.
“It’s an incredibly significant case involving such an important player in financial services and frankly the American business economy,” noted Dermody. “And it’s a kind of case that really reflects the courage and tenacity of clients … You go to law school to serve clients like that.”
While the Goldman Sachs resolution was a major win, Dermody recognizes how challenging it is to resolve civil rights actions, and advised new attorneys that they must grow “thick skin.”
“Every single possible odd is stacked against you,” she said. “The law is unfortunately not designed to make equity accessible. It’s not meant to disrupt the systems that it operates in. So the nature of the work is very much an uphill challenge.”
Dermody cautioned against assuming that newcomers will quickly and effortlessly achieve victories. Instead, she said “attorneys should embrace the grind for their clients.”
“It is really tough, and you can burn out, and you can get really bummed out in this area if you don’t kind of have the mentality of, ‘I’m just going to keep grinding, and over the long haul, I’m going to stack wins, and they’re going to be meaningful, and my clients are going to get justice.'”
Read Law360′s full profile of Kelly.
About Kelly M. Dermody
The Managing Partner of Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office, Kelly M. Dermody specializes in class and collective actions on behalf of plaintiffs in civil rights, employment, and consumer cases, including gender discrimination cases against Google and Goldman Sachs. 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. She also leads Lieff Cabraser’s representation of women who allege their ovarian and uterine cancer was caused by long-term use of dangerous hair relaxer products. In 2020, Kelly led the team that successfully challenged the Trump Administration’s improper withholding of CARES Act stimulus funds from incarcerated Americans, leading to the release and distribution of $1.5 billion in stimulus funds, in what may be the single largest recovery for a targeted class from a single lawsuit in history.