Former K&L Gates Partner’s Dispute Ordered to Arbitration
Thursday, September, 26, 2013
Robert Ted Parker, an attorney formerly employed by the firm K&L Gates, must now take his case to arbitration, according to a recent ruling by the District of Columbia Court of Appeal. This news was disappointing to Parker, who believed that his case should be heard by a judge, alleging that K&L Gates was guilty of wrongful termination, breach of contract and age discrimination. Parker had served as an equity partner for the firm.
According to court documents, Parker had signed a supplemental partnership agreement when his firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, merged with another firm, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham. The result of the merger was a new company, K&L Gates, which Parker left in 2009.
While K&L Gates asserts that Parker resigned from his position, Parker has another version of the story. According to him, he was pushed out of the firm by being forced to drop a securities action against Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
According to arbitrator Judge Roy McLeese III, who spoke for the three-person arbitration panel hearing the dispute, Parker received adequate notice concerning the arbitration enforcement when he signed the supplementary agreement, and should therefore be bound to arbitration for this dispute with the firm. The fact that he was a “seasoned attorney” when he read the supplementary contract also contributed to the panel’s decision.
According to the arbitration panel, Parker could not adequately prove that the arbitration clause he signed was “unreasonable” or could violate public policy. According to Parker, however, K&L Gates committed fraud when they asked him to sign the supplementary contract. He also informed the panel that the clause within the document didn’t apply to all of the claims he was bringing against K&L Gates, but the panel disagreed with him on that point as well.