Law firms in the dock

It is becoming more and more common for firms to find themselves in the dock defending claims of discrimination.

Just a few weeks ago former Travers Smith trainee Katie Tantum persuaded the Employment Tribunal that she had been the victim of pregnancy discrimination while at the firm. The firm reached a financial settlement with Tantum last week, terms of which are strictly confidential.

Linklaters is in the Central London Employment Tribunal this week defending claims of bullying and discriminationfrom a former paralegal, Ali Hussain, who joined the firm in March 2009. His main complaint is that he was forced to work overtime by his manager.

It is not just trainees and paralegals who are challenging their firms however. The Employment Tribunal rejected an age discrimination claim by lawyer Leslie Seldon against his former firm Clarkson Wright & Jakes (CWJ) last month, bringing to an end a five-year battle.

Meanwhile overseas, discrimination claims are rarer but firms are still facing lawsuits. In New York Davis Polk is being sued by a headhunter over what he alleges are unpaid fees in connection with the hire two-partner Hong Kong disputes team from Clifford Chance.