Norton Rose Fulbright accused of pushing lawyer out in merger run-up

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Aug 07, 2017
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Partners at the transatlantic law firm Norton Rose Fulbright must be having the tiniest of second thoughts over the firm’s recent takeover of the New York practice Chadbourne & Parke.

First NRF was dragged into gender discrimination lawsuit lasting more than a year with Kerrie Campbell, a litigation partner who was based at Chadbourne’s Washington DC outpost, by dint of taking over the firm. Now a third party has formally joined the claim with allegations that Norton Rose Fulbright actively tried to influence the litigation before the quasi-merger was done.

In a submission issued last week in the US district court in the southern district of New York (aka Manhattan), Mary Yelenick, a former chairwoman of the Chadbourne’s products liability group, alleges that “Norton Rose aided and abetted Chadbourne’s discriminatory, retaliatory, and otherwise unlawful conduct by communicating to Chadbourne to that it should formally expel Campbell from the firm prior to the completion of the merger with Norton Rose”.

The allegation goes on to suggest that NRF’s wishes were pandered to by the Chadbourne partners as the court submission says: “In fact, the transaction was not announced and finalised until after Chadbourne publicly announced that the firm would, and in fact did, expel Campbell from the firm.”

Yelenick also tells the court that NRF should be in the frame in any action because “there is continuity between the operations and workforces of the predecessor Chadbourne and successor Norton Rose, notwithstanding a change in corporate structure”.

Yelenick is either incredibly gutsy or downright foolish as she is reported to be very much part of the Norton Rose Fulbright team, listed as a litigation lawyer specialising in life sciences, healthcare and technology actions. NRF partners hoping the story will fizzle out over the summer are likely to be disappointed.

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