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Baker McKenzie partner accused of sexual harassment leaves firm
09 February 2018
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The partner who sexually harassed a junior female lawyer is leaving Baker McKenzie.

Last week RollOnFriday revealed that the senior partner (whom RollOnFriday is not naming due to the victim's concerns that her identity could be 'jigsawed' if he were identified) invited several associates including the victim back to his hotel for drinks, after which he assaulted her. The firm has confirmed that, following the reports of the assault and subsequent cover-up, the partner is now leaving the firm. RollOnFriday understands that his position was regarded as untenable. 

The SRA is now considering whether to launch an investigation into the conduct of Baker McKenzie in relation to the episode. An SRA spokesperson said, “Now that we’re aware of the issue, we will seek further information before deciding on appropriate action”. Of particular concern will be Baker McKenzie's failure to report the matter to the SRA when it occurred. Section 10.4 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct obliges firms to tell the SRA "promptly" about "any serious misconduct" by any authorised person. The non-disclosure element of the settlement agreement entered into by Bakers is also problematic.The Code states that one way in which a firm could fail to comply is by entering into an agreement "which would attempt to preclude" the SRA from investigating "an actual or potential complaint or allegation of professional misconduct". 

 

  "Sure we can keep a lid on it." 
A spokesman for the firm said, “We are in dialogue with the SRA on this matter. As a firm, our values of inclusion and diversity are extremely important to us and we are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all employees. That is why we are commissioning an independent review of this particular incident and how it was subsequently handled by the firm”.

He said, “The review will also consider how we handle complaints of sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behaviour toward colleagues, to ensure we are guaranteeing the protection of our employees. We are really sorry this incident ever happened and we acknowledge we should have handled it better”.
 

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anonymous user
09/02/2018 09:27
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'As a firm, it is of paramount importance that we give the impression of valuing inclusion and diversity. That is why we are churning platitudinous nonsense with misplaced earnestness and, unbelievable, a straight face. We are really sorry that that it has come to light that what we do bears no relation to what we say. We acknowledge that we need to improve our cover ups. Now, if you look over there, you will see a squirrel. Look at the squirrel. Look at it. No, don't look at me, look at the squirrel.'
Lydia
09/02/2018 09:40
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These men need to know that this conduct is not acceptable and just paying female staff off is not enough.I am not sure much is to be gained by the SRA coming down on B&M but we do need to draw a line in the sand in 2017/.18 about this kind of conduct and any result that sees the junior woman leaving and the man kept in post or promoted will always give out the wrong signal. Make him work for 6 months without pay for example with all that pay going to the more junior woman for that period might the right kind of appropriate penalty on these men.
anonymous user
09/02/2018 10:27
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One of the first life lessons my mother told me as a young woman was that if a man invites you back to his flat/house/hotel room for coffee, chats, looking at etchings, he is not interested in any of those things and if you go he will assume you are up for something more than that. What were the associates doing going back to the partner's hotel room in the first place? Of course rape and sexual assualt are crimes, but was this a clumsy pass and the associate taking the opportunity to pay a chunk of her mortgage off?? Sorry to be cynical , but if it was sexual assault why did she not report it to the police?
anonymous user
09/02/2018 10:56
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Must be the victim's fault then. Let's blame her. That sounds sensible and in no way idiotic.
anonymous user
09/02/2018 11:35
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as the poster anon at 10.27 I would like to point out that I have had experience of older men and partners making passess in my career at after work drinks in a pub etc. I would never go back to a hotel room unless I too were interested in sex. If I were genuinly sexually assulted my first port of call would be the police, and then my Firm, and would rely on laws surrounding protection of whistleblowing and or being prepared to shame the firm. I may lose my job, but there are others out there. I would NEVER agree to a confidential pay off as that would only encourage men to believe their behaviour was acceptabel and as a woman at work I feel that those women who take large payoffs without reporting criminal behaviour to the proper sources, ie the Police, are letting the sisterhood down
anonymous user
09/02/2018 14:00
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To 11.35, we don't know all the facts. Several associates were invited back to the partner's hotel, she may have thought she was safe in a group. Even if she went there with an open mind as to what might happen, it was her prerogative to decide she didn't want to participate at any time, regardless of what signals she may or may not have given off earlier.

And as to her going to the police or shouting it from the rooftops rather than accepting a settlement, can we judge what her concerns might have been around that? He had all the power, she had none. Can a criminal barrister help me with the conviction rate for sexual assaults - I doubt it's very high. Sadly, society is all too quick to point the finger at the victim, saying she brought it on herself, so forgive her for not wanting to leave B&M in a blaze of righteous glory and go job hunting with that out in the open.
anonymous user
09/02/2018 14:38
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@11.35 and obviously everyone acts and looks at life in the same way as you and if they don't then it is clearly and entirely their fault.
anonymous user
09/02/2018 14:46
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White and Case gotfined £250,000 by the SRA for failing to properly check conflicts. Are we going to see a bigger fine for Baker McKenzie? This is breach of the SRA code had a victim - and there was a cover up.
anonymous user
09/02/2018 16:33
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Do people really think this is just at B&M? This is rife across the legal industry. Time for serious questions to be asked
anonymous user
09/02/2018 18:42
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Are people seriously suggesting that women are secretly hoping they get assaulted by their boss in the hope of a pay off? Really??! I think we're losing sight of the fact here, this was a partner, a person in a position of authority who invited junior associates to his hotel room. And we're thinking the junior associate is in some way to blame?
anonymous user
10/02/2018 21:27
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We don't know all the facts of this case. But if there was sexual assault why was in not reported to the police? And yes, as a woman I think if you accept invitations back to hotel rooms then be ready for a pass. If a rape/assult takes place that is a crime, but if it is a case of a man you don't fancy making a pass at you that is life, not a sexual assault. I am troubled that an accusation of sexual assault is now the 21st Century witchcraft allegation. And to poster anon at 14.00, are you saying all the other women there participated in an orgy if there were a group there? And if there was a group and he forced himself where are the witnesses and why didn't she leave in a group? At some point we women have to take responsibility for our safety and not be a c**k tease. and if it was consensual and she changed her mind in the morning, then that is despicable
anonymous user
10/02/2018 22:15
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I doubt some of the comments defending the assaulting partner is being led/directed by the Baker Mckenzie there is no other way to excuse the assaulter!! I think it would be best if they stop and take the necessary actions prior hand and not to try to make PR here!
anonymous user
11/02/2018 20:26
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Baker has major issues to resolve and this should be a wake up call - you can not brush things under the carpet just because some body is a rain maker.
anonymous user
12/02/2018 09:25
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Erm, to the poster at 10:27, all published reports say that the partner invited several associates back to his "hotel" not "hotel room". I'd read this as him inviting a group of them back to the public bar of his (no doubt posh) hotel, where the assault then took place. Apologies if I've misunderstood, but the conversation here about accepting invites to "hotel rooms" to "look at etchings" seems irrelevant in the present case and a pretty shameful attempt to smear the victim.
anonymous user
12/02/2018 10:29
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I feel like everyone here has forgotten a very basic fact – it's very easy not to commit sexual assault or rape. I go about my day not sexually assaulting or raping anyone on a very regular basis. Ok, throw in some drinks and if I'm feeling particularly randy, I'll throw in a rather sad pick up line like "Kiss me if I'm wrong, but dinosaurs still exist right?" and see if I get lucky. Clumsy passes don't necessarily involve any form of physical contact, people (again, I refer to the rather poor pickup line. Here's another "Is it hot in here or is it just you?"). Aside from poor pick up lines it can also be a knowing smile, or… heaven forbid…. Just outright saying "I really wanna snog you". I would rather get accused of "Dude, that was an awkward conversation, it felt wrong and it's not on" the next day rather than get accused of "He made me/He put his hands/He shoved me/He told me". It is so easy, not to sexually assault or rape someone or make a clumsy pass without any kind of contact. I feel like I can make an app that says this on repeat. Maybe if I put it on a beer can, guys might actually pay attention to this.
anonymous user
13/02/2018 22:46
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I imagine there will be a lot of firms worried now that their settlement agreements are going to hold up in the post #metoo era. After all, if someone sexually harassed decides to break cover having signed such an agreement, its highly unlikely the firm will start chasing them for their money back.
anonymous user
13/02/2018 23:13
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I wonder how Bakers’ clients are reacting to all these revelations. Some are rather concerned so I hear.
anonymous user
14/02/2018 19:05
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******damage limitation *******
anonymous user
15/02/2018 11:49
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I gather a certain American firm located near Fleet Street (and infamous for its randy partners) reached a similar settlement agreement with an associate in 2015/16. The partner in question moved to another American firm without any problems.
anonymous user
17/02/2018 09:48
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The problem I have with is that on the Friday it was said that the matter had been dealt with but by the Monday he was leaving. I can't see how much can have been done in the way of due process, he seems to have been thrown under the bus because of a media storm. If all parties agreed to the NDA then that should have brought closure, unless one party is claiming they were coerced into it.
  

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