Former Jones Day Partner Sues Firm for Gender Bias

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 22, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Jones Day has a mysterious history, which started more than 100 years ago when a founding partner was murdered in Cleveland.

Today, the firm is a multi-billion dollar business with some 2,500 lawyers around the world. But mystery again surrounds the law firm as a former partner has sued over a secretive "black box" compensation system.

Wendy Moore, on behalf of other female attorneys, claims the firm has a "code of silence" about pay that discriminates against women.

"Black Box"

According to the lawsuit, the "black box" is a small group of influential partners who control attorney compensation without oversight. The suit says lawyers had to keep their pay confidential, which made it difficult for women to discover inequities and to equalize pay.

The allegations go deeper than pay, however. The plaintiffs say the firm has a male-centered culture that includes "pub nights," "strip clubs," and "tales of bad-boy behavior."

"This male-dominated environment fosters a fraternity culture that centers on male attorneys, their clients, their relationships, and their female conquests," the suit says.

For Moore, a former partner, it translated to unfair pay. She said it is subjective, based on the decisions of one managing partner.

Managing Partner System

Jones Day has not filed a response to the complaint, but does not hide its managing partner system. Its history -- including the unsolved murder of a founding partner -- is explained on its website.

After William Rice was killed while walking home one night, Frank Ginn became the first managing partner. Under the firm's system, the managing partner has always had the authority to make all management decisions.

"Since then, this governance system has never been the subject of any disagreement within the Firm," the website says. "It is one of the critical components of an institutional management approach that has been an important element of the Firm's success over the last century."

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