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Exclusive: Top Baker McKenzie partner sexually assaulted associate
02 February 2018
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One of Baker McKenzie’s most senior partners sexually assaulted one of his female associates. Bakers’ management paid her a substantial sum to hush her up, swept the matter under the carpet and denied that it had happened.

RollOnFriday is holding back a number of details – including the name of the perpetrator – so as not to risk identifying the victim. But after an event the partner invited several associates including the victim back to his hotel for drinks, following which he assaulted her. Insiders say that the assault was relatively minor. But it was sufficiently serious to the firm for management to agree that the associate would be paid a significant sum of money, would enter into a confidentiality agreement and would not return to work.

    How it might have looked

The partner apparently offered to make a large donation to charity by way of atonement. It is not known whether this was accepted. But he remained at the firm and shortly afterwards was promoted.

This should have blown up over a year ago: RollOnFriday contacted Bakers to say that it had been told that a line in the firm’s accounts was a pay off to an associate after a senior partner sexually assaulted her. The firm maintained that it was down to restructuring costs in various departments. The lying liars.

A spokesman said, "We take any allegations of inappropriate behaviour or misconduct extremely seriously. This incident occurred several years ago and was reported by our HR team at the time. We treated the allegation very seriously and immediately carried out a thorough investigation, including obtaining both external and internal advice. On completion of the investigation, the Firm imposed sanctions on the partner concerned*. A confidential settlement was then reached with the employee, which we are not in a position to discuss to protect the interests of the employee. Our Code of Business Conduct reflects the values of our organisation, and we expect all of our people, whether partners or employees, to abide by the principles and standards of behaviour set out in that Code."
 
He said, "We are looking into all aspects of the 2016 enquiry from Roll On Friday to see if there are lessons that can be learned. Any suggestion however, that the Firm lied is inaccurate and something we refute."

*like promoting him.

Comments

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anonymous user
02/02/2018 08:12
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whilst she took the settlement, she lost her job for being the victim! This is unacceptable.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 08:43
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Would this have been reported to the SRA? One hopes they're taking such matters more seriously these days and considering the ethical health of the legal profession.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 08:54
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In a continental office of an - at the time - English law firm of the Silver Circle, a newly hired lateral partner propositioned to a number of females. All of them left eventually (with no settlements whatsoever). Said partner remained partner. He later left for a Magic Circle firm, where he also misbehaved and was warned. Nothing worse happened to him. Everyone knows. The firm. Other firms. Even the legal press (because he also misbehaves at PR events). It is an open secret.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 09:14
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Bakers, ranked the sixth best organisation for workplace equality by Stonewall this week. Doesn’t seem that equal.
legalhero2018
02/02/2018 09:17
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Withholding the partner's identity does not protect the victim (it could have been anyone). It protects the partner. At least this firm tried to do something about it.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 09:18
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Name and shame the perpetrator
anonymous user
02/02/2018 09:26
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Ask them if they self-reported to the SRA
anonymous user
02/02/2018 09:27
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Anon @ 0854

What you are describing sounds sleazy and unpleasant, but asking someone if they want a shag, while clearly inappropriate in a work context is not a criminal offence (afaik)

The allegations described here sound like a criminal offence. It’s an order of magnitude greater
anonymous user
02/02/2018 09:45
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Why is ROF holding back the name? You are just protecting the perpetrator.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 09:46
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Money money money - all these corporates think about. Equality league tables are a joke.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 10:10
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I note their response makes no reference to the SRA. Presumably they tried to also hush it up from them.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 10:30
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Too little information here for this to have any meaning at all. So any comment on it beyond an admission we know nothing, is stupid. Here's the Wikipedia definition of sexual assault:

"Sexual assault takes many forms including attacks such as rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person's body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person's consent"

So wide as to be meaningless. Did her try and rape her? Or did he touch her bum in an ill-fated and no doubt drunken attempt at flirtation? Is he a nasty sociopath with a track record of exploiting staff? Or the nicest partner in the world who made a single hapless misjudgement? We have no way of knowing.

So all these outraged demands from the mob (Name him! SRA him! Burn him!) are just silly. It is disappointing that so many lawyers are so engaged in such mindless pitchfork-waving.

anonymous user
02/02/2018 10:32
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lol
anonymous user
02/02/2018 10:36
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It makes me sad to read this. Partners should not be untouchable nor effectively rewarded for unacceptable behaviour. I wish these men would think about they’d feel if one of their daughters was subjected to this kind of behaviour. It is time for firms to hold partners accountable. The majority of us are now watching with interest to see what Baker & McKenzie and Dentons do off the back of recent allegations.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 10:40
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Anon @ 1030

Firms don’t normally pay settlements off the back of drunken flirtation
anonymous user
02/02/2018 10:44
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This is massive.

I wonder if the partners knew their profits were being siphoned off to silence an associate?
anonymous user
02/02/2018 11:42
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Anon @ 10.30 "Or did he touch her bum in an ill-fated and no doubt drunken attempt at flirtation?"

I'm really tired of people who excuse behaviour like this as "ill-fated" and/or "drunken attempt at flirtation". This is 2018 - who didn't get the memo that grabbing a woman's arse is not okay? Yes, of course, there is a scale of misbehaviour and this isn't on the same end as the most serious sexual assault. But that doesn't mean women should have to just shrug it off / chalk it up to someone misreading the situation. It's really, really unpleasant when it happens!
anonymous user
02/02/2018 11:44
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Every law firm I've ever worked at has "that" partner. The one female trainees and junior lawyers are warned to not be left alone with. All the fellow partners know but instead of sanctioning the partner everyone else is warned against him like it's somehow everyone else's job to make sure they're not in a room with his penis.

Four different law firms all had that one partner. Nothing ever gets done about it. Hopefully post Weinstien the tide might start changing.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 11:48
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Umm, so RoF knew about this and didn't report? And to everyone commenting referring to the partner but not naming - why? Why are RoF not naming? This is what's wrong. Why cover up? Why protect said partner?
anonymous user
02/02/2018 11:50
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Anyone can report this matter to the SRA and ask them to investigate, and as solicitors, we are in fact duty bound to do so.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 12:00
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Anon @ 2018 "This is 2018 - who didn't get the memo that grabbing a woman's arse is not okay?"

Probably all the women that think it's perfectly ok to lift up my kilt to see if I'm wearing underwear. Can you imagine the hooha if a bloke were to lift up a woman's skirt to check the same? I'm not condoning the behaviour but I'm a bit tired of the double standards.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 12:40
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Kilt and skirt lifting, although physically similar, are poles apart. I don't think many men who'd had their kilt lifted would feel vulnerable in the same way, nor is it perpetuating a power imbalance.The same applies to the alleged similarities between Presidents Club hostesses and male strippers - some of the former and most/all the latter know what to expect but comparing the two is way off the mark.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 14:56
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Accepted a settlement!
anonymous user
02/02/2018 15:21
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recall one rainmaking partner at a large upper-mid level city firm about 5 or 6 years ago who was not only having an affair with a senior associate in his department, but tried to stuff money down a secretary's top at an xmas party and asked her to come up to his hotel room for sex. All the firm did was make him get her flowers to apologise. She ended up leaving, he is still there. This stuff goes on all the time and nothing whatsoever gets done.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 16:06
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Lots of calls to name the partner but we should remember, maybe the victim doesn't want him named in case it inadvertently reveals her identity as well
anonymous user
02/02/2018 16:51
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Has anyone reported Bakers to the SRA?
anonymous user
02/02/2018 16:53
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Never mind the SRA. This is a criminal allegation and should be reported to the police. What if there are other victims?
anonymous user
02/02/2018 19:13
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This is how it always seems to go - the men keep their jobs and get a promotion (even if supposedly sanctioned ) and the female victims leave their jobs.

Also it is quite hard to judge it wthout knowing the facts - rape, presumably not as it says not serious. However it must have been fairly serious for her to be forced out of the firm!
anonymous user
02/02/2018 19:38
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anon @ 10:30 "Too little information here for this to have any meaning at all."

No there isn't. She was sexually assaulted by her boss. That's all you need to know to judge that he deserves a pitchfork where the son doesn't shine.

And cretins like you that think he deserves protection because, apparently, there are some types of sexual assualt that are OK in this context, likewise deserve a prick.
anonymous user
02/02/2018 22:17
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Like a large donation to charity suddenly makes it all okay
anonymous user
02/02/2018 23:53
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ROF, I think you’re doing the right thing withholding the name of the perpetrator but given you know the details, will you be making a report to the SRA?
anonymous user
03/02/2018 00:38
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I imagine there will be a few firms now concerned as to whether their misdeeds are about to be reported as part of the #metoo campaign
anonymous user
03/02/2018 07:07
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Holy lack of self-awareness, Batman! Here's a sanctimonious piece from a B&M employment partner written in October 2017 about "A Tough Stance on Sexual Harassment is Essential". (https://www.bakermckenzie.com/en/insight/publications/2017/10/tough-stance-sexual-harassment) Classic lines include "Employers could also consider appointing a senior executive or manager as its public champion in complaints of discrimination or harassment. Employees may be more inclined to approach a senior employee who has gravitas and the backing of the organisation where they fall victim to harassment."

Perhaps RoF might want to look at the accounts of other law firms who've made a point of condemning sexual harassment in print, to see if they protest too much.
(Unknown)
03/02/2018 12:17
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This is not news at Bakers (or many other places I’m sure). I and many female colleagues (non partners) suffered in silence through inappropriate behaviour of various male partners. Was it reported to HR? Yes. Did they do anything? I doubt it very much. The partners are still there and most of my colleagues and I are not. But remember this isn’t really about inappropriate behaviour. It’s about abuse of power. I’m more than happy to tell someone where to go if they’re coming on to me and I don’t want them to. But these people have a direct influence on our careers. And that’s what makes this even worse.
anonymous user
05/02/2018 08:33
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I saw quite a few minor assaults in legal firms usually at parties
However there were some pretty dark figures in senior management who really did try to do a Harvey Weinstein
anonymous user
05/02/2018 16:14
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How many more sexual assaults have been coved up by this firm?
anonymous user
06/02/2018 08:45
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The SRA should take action against the firm's management, as well as the partner involved.

Strike a managing partner off for not providing a safe and respectable working environment and attitudes will change very fast indeed....
anonymous user
06/02/2018 09:50
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Today's FT says he is at home not working now whilst it is looked into and presumably will be asked to leave.
anonymous user
06/02/2018 15:53
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I am a surveyor whose work is with a lot of large corporate so I regularly meet clients lawyers in the course of my work. Sadly all the comments are familiar in my profession too, particularly there is always the guy who women are warned not to be alone with. I am a bloke and I find it unacceptable that such behaviour is condoned by large professional organisations. It's 2018 not the 1920s!
anonymous user
06/02/2018 17:02
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Things need to change .... and yet Partners like the one who made comments on LinkedIn is still where he always was.
anonymous user
06/02/2018 21:37
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Nothing new here. A cultural issue at the firm with previous offending partners sent abroad for a while. It will be interesting to see if when a name emerges there is any sort of 'previous'.
anonymous user
06/02/2018 23:37
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Excellent that ROF has broken this story - the legal sector is not immune from the harassment cases seen in other sectors - but what a great shame Baker McKenzie only react when the story makes it into the media. They say they’re sorry - hard to believe when they promoted the perpetrator. Can’t help thinking they’re only sorry they’ve been caught out.
anonymous user
07/02/2018 12:28
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As Bob Dylan famously sang, "money doesn't talk, it swears".
anonymous user
07/02/2018 13:17
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History is repeating itself or, in other words, nothing changes really! see:

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/14/us/firms-wake-up-to-the-problem-of-sex-harassment.html
anonymous user
07/02/2018 19:32
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Apparently the partner 'will be leaving the firm'. Will be leaving???!!!! So he is still with the firm?! Wake up Baker McKenzie and act!
anonymous user
07/02/2018 20:56
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Let me make sure I understand this correctly: The victim gets money, but has her career derailed. (If she signed a confidentiality agreement, what's she supposed to say when a prospective employer asks why she left her job?) And the loser gets promoted. Um.
anonymous user
08/02/2018 04:11
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The same thing happened to a girl at my firm and the partner was made to leave and joined Baker McKenzie...
anonymous user
08/02/2018 21:57
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Baker has a history of covering up abuse and brushing things under the carpet where rainmaker partners are concerned. Good on you roll on Friday for raising this issue. This will give strength to others to speak up.
anonymous user
09/02/2018 10:49
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Me too (a different firm).
anonymous user
09/02/2018 15:07
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http://www.rollonfriday.com/Default.aspx?TabId=58&Id=4570&fromTab=58¤tIndex=61
anonymous user
09/02/2018 15:59
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Wow. Singapore too.
anonymous user
09/02/2018 19:59
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yeah ... name the purpetrator, shame him, burn him - Medevial witch hunting at its best! ....

as far as I know, the event was relatively minor - of course, no excuse for misbehaviour.

.... what I am nonetheless struggling with: why would a grown-up female associate go into a partner's hotel room in the first instance? hmmm .....
anonymous user
29/03/2018 03:11
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NRF guilty of very similar conduct
anonymous user
29/03/2018 03:21
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To those who say women shouldn't take the pay out. If the firm wont do anything and wants to cover it up to support a high fee earning partner what are women supposed to do? just leave and hope for the best? No possibility staying if firm doesn't support a whistle-blower.

  

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