Suit by former income partner claims Winston tethered her career to male lawyers’ employment

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A former income partner at Winston & Strawn contends in a lawsuit that the firm discriminated against her by tying her continued employment to the careers of male equity partners and retaliated against her when she refused the law firm’s request to leave.

The plaintiff, Constance Ramos, is a former high school classmate of Barack Obama’s, the Recorder (sub. req.) reports. Her new law firm is Akira IP based in Oakland, California. The suit, filed Aug. 30 in state court in San Francisco, has not been previously reported.

Ramos is an intellectual property lawyer with a doctorate in biophysics. She joined Winston & Strawn from Hogan Lovells in May 2014 along with two other lawyers: Korula ‘Sunny’ Cherian and Scott Wales. Her original salary was $450,000, with the possibility of an annual bonus based on billable hours targets, the suit says. Ramos didn’t receive bonuses for which she was qualified, even when she was the highest billing income partner in the San Francisco office, according to the suit.

The male lawyers were allowed to participate in a lateral partner integration program, but Ramos wasn’t provided the same benefits, including a dedicated partner liaison, the suit says. When she sought to discuss integration activities, she was rebuffed, the suit says.

Wales left Winston in June 2015 and Cherian exited the firm in October of that year. Ramos says she was asked to leave the law firm in January 2016 after completion of a trial on which she worked nearly full-time. The trial was largely a victory for Ramos’ client, and a motion for attorney fees is still pending, the suit says.

After Ramos refused to leave, her salary was reduced to $300,000, the suit says. The next year, her salary was cut to $200,000. During that time, she says, she was barred from working on matters for which she had expertise.

The suit claims Ramos was paid less than male attorneys, was required to meet more stringent performance requirements that similarly situated male attorneys, and denied bonuses to which she was entitled.

Joan Fife, the managing partner of Winston’s San Francisco office, didn’t immediately respond to an ABA Journal email seeking comment.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Pay Up: Female lawyers are working for income fairness—by suing their firms”




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