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Sullivan & Cromwell Goes on the Offensive in the Court of Public Opinion

According to continuing coverage at Above the Law, Sullivan & Cromwell has gone on the offensive against ex-associate, Aaron Charney, who sued the firm for discrimination based on sexual preference. Now, in a separate action, Sullivan & Cromwell has sued Charney for leaking client confidences and a PowerPoint presentation about low associate morale (though, as I suggested in this earlier post, proof of low associate morale could help exonerate S&C from claims of gender bias by showing that S&C was an equal-opportunity mistreater).   

As I noted here, the Charney versus S&C litigation differs substantially from similar suits (if they were brought at all), because they're being covered extensively in blogs and aired in the court of public opinion. And though I'm enjoying all of the gossip, at the same time, I wonder whether by going so public with his lawsuit, Charney has cost himself not only his position at S&C but compromised his legal career. Allegations about ethical breaches are serious; if proven, they can result not just in a monetary judgment but disbarment. And I may be wrong, but I don't think that S&C would have taken that step if Charney hadn't blasted the details of his lawsuit out on the Internet.

In an ordinary court proceeding, even when you lose before a jury, you can appeal. And in most cases, if the suit flies under the radar, people forget about it and the litigants pick up the pieces and move on. The problem with the court of public opinion is that, like Charney, you can reach a point of no return, where you don't just lose a lawsuit but, possibly, an entire career.   

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 5, 2007 at 06:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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