Kerrie Campbell, a former Chadbourne & Parke partner suing the firm for gender discrimination, has launched her own practice in Washington, D.C.
KCampbell Law, which has been operating for a month, provides legal services in the areas of defamation, reputation, regulation, commercial speech and unfair trade practices, according to Campbell.
Campbell made waves last summer when she sued Chadbourne (now Norton Rose Fulbright) for gender discrimination, alleging the firm’s “all-male dictatorship” systematically paid her and other women less than their male counterparts. Two other former Chadbourne partners have since joined as plaintiffs, and Norton Rose was added to the suit in late July following a June merger with Chadbourne.
“It was a big step,”Campbell said Tuesday of her decision to start the new firm.
“It was a very big, weighty decision, and I knew that along with the legal gender discrimination battle that I’m very committed to, that it would be a challenge to start a women-owned firm.”
The news was first reported last week by The American Lawyer, which found Campbell’s new listing in the Washington, D.C. bar records.
She said some of her biggest challenges have come from Chadbourne, which publicly voted her out of the partnership in April.
“After publicly expelling me from the firm, Chadbourne has still maintained and exercised control over me in a way that has made things difficult for me economically and professionally,” said Campbell. “The whereabouts of my capital is a complete mystery and no one’s talking except to say it’s basically none of my business, which is a little bit unpleasant.”
Campbell said Chadbourne has also resisted efforts to transfer her client files to her new firm.
A spokesperson for the firm said Chadbourne has sent 81 boxes of files to Campbell as well as a complete set of electronic files, “the totality of records that clients have authorized be forwarded to her.”
“As concerns her return of capital, Chadbourne advised Ms. Campbell’s attorney some time ago that it is conforming to the policy and practice that it follows with any and all partners that leave the firm, in terms of a timely accounting for and returning of their capital,” the spokesperson said.
Despite these setbacks, Campbell said she has been “very busy” with client work.She declined to name any of her clients, but said much of her current work has been in the area of manufacturing and consumer products. Past clients have included Deepak Chopra, G. Gordon Liddy, Lieutenant Colonel Martha McSally and the Cato Institute, according to a press statement announcing the launch of the firm.
Campbell said she is currently developing a marketing plan and said she plans to hire another attorney as soon as possible.
She also plans to encourage her clients and other companies to hire and engage more women-owned and minority-owned firms as a way to challenge “Big Law business as usual.”
“Unless it starts to affect the bottom line, I don’t think things will change in Big Law, in terms of gender and minority inequality,” she said.
Before joining Chadbourne in 2014, Campbell was a partner at Manatt Phelps & Phillips and at Collier, Shannon & Scott. She began her career in 1987 as a litigation associate at Sedgwick.
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