A little known fact is that many defense lawyers who practice employment law are actually political moderates. Many of my defense lawyer friends actually were appalled by former Pres. Trump. But, not all. Two lawyers resigned from the mega firm, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith in Los Angeles to start a new law firm that “reflects our values.” What were those values? Well, poking fun at Jews was one. Making anti-female and racist comments were two others. The two partners were the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Labor & Employment section at Lewis Brisbois.
John Barber and Jeff Ranen were also members of the management committee for the 1600 lawyer firm. That means they helped run the firm. Dozens of emails were provided by Lewis Brisbois to Above the Law and the Forward blogs detailing their many prejudices. For example, in 2012, Raven emailed to Barber that the firm does not hire Jews. In another email, Raven boasted to Barber that in one of his cases, the opposing lawyer was an observant Jew. The Jewish lawyer had asked Ranen to not send him any deposition related material on Saturdays. So, boasted Ranen, he always emailed the observant Jew on Saturdays. Ranen added, “I almost ONLY write to him on Saturday mornings.” Barber responded, “Jew hater.”
So, when lawyers make a special request, like “please do not send me any materials on Saturdays,” the great majority of us honor those requests. Litigation is by definition adversarial. It is exceedingly easy for the process to devolve into name-calling and spitefulness. We honor those requests because: 1) the opposition can use it against us when we do not, and 2) the opposition will do it to us, as well.
The two senior partners also made frequent comments about the breast size of female lawyers at their firm and about female judges. They used the n-word and made frequent anti-homosexual comments. Since Lewis Brisbois released these emails, the two men resigned from their newly created law firm. Lewis Brisbois located the emails after a formal complaint was submitted about the two men. The actions of the mega-firm suggest they are trying to make amends. Let’s hope they do. See Above the Law post here and the Forward post here.