GE relationship partner calls on Jack Welch in W&S pay row

A senior partner of US firm Winston & Strawn is expected to call both the firm’s managing partner and Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric (GE), to testify in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the firm.

Anthony LoFrisco, who is 73 and still a partner in the New York office of Winston, is suing the Chicago-headquartered firm for millions of dollars in compensation.

He claims that the firm breached a remuneration agreement that would have allowed him to avoid decompression – the process by which most partners’ compensation is reduced every year after reaching 65.

Decompression lowered LoFrisco’s compensation from $2.3m (£1.3m) in 2002 to $350,000 (£202,000) in 2004, despite his actual billings increasing from $10m (£5.8m) to $19m (£11m).

As part of the claim, which is scheduled to go to trial in the Manhattan Supreme Court on 4 January next year, former GE chairman Welch has filed an affidavit on LoFrisco’s behalf. It states that he was “crucial” to GE’s relationship with Winston, as the corporation had not been a client of the firm until LoFrisco joined laterally in 1991.

LoFrisco remains GE’s key relationship partner at Winston, while GE is understood to be one of the firm’s top-billing clients.

Winston has since asked Justice Helen Freedman for permission to depose Welsh before the trial begins.

LoFrisco is also fighting for the right to call Winston’s managing partner James Neis as a witness, arguing that Neis was instrumental in creating the remuneration agreement.

However, Winston filed an injunction last Monday (5 December), claiming that Neis could not be subpoenaed because he is based in Chicago, which is outside the court’s jurisdiction.

LoFrisco has instructed Michael Carlinsky of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges. Winston is being represented by Philip Forlenza of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

Winston refused to comment.