Ropes & Gray is facing allegations that the firm’s working conditions are “horrific” and “chaotic, stressful and pressurized.” The allegations come from barrister Joanna Torode who has sued the firm over an “unrelenting” workload in the High Court in London.
As reported by ABA Journal, court documents allege there was an exodus of members of her financial crimes team from the firm, and so, Torode’s work as the only English-qualified lawyer left increased:
“Not only would she frequently be the last lawyer on her floor to leave in the evening, as well as frequently working over weekends, but the intensity and pressure of her work was significantly intensified given the absence of any effective support at junior and senior level and the absence of any effective teamworking,” her barrister wrote.
This caused Torode to experience a meltdown:
Torode was showing “incipient signs” of major depression by late November, according to the allegations summarized by the U.K. media. When Torode was told at Christmas 2017 that two colleagues had received promotions, but she had not, she became visibly upset and started “sobbing,” the writ alleges.
Torode was hospitalized in April 2018 after she was told that she would face a disciplinary hearing for a media interview that could have been interpreted as criticizing her client. She participated in the interview when she was struggling to cope with the “overwhelming demands” of her work, according to the allegations.
Torode reportedly now suffers from a major depressive disorder and is “unlikely to be able to return to work as a lawyer.”
For its part, Ropes & Gray says well, long hours is why they pay their attorneys so much money, saying plaintiff’s workload was “neither out of the norm nor excessive.”
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).