Top Lawyers Jump to New Firms to Avoid Sex-Misconduct Accusations: Report

After being accused of sexual misconduct, top lawyers at elite U.S. firms have routinely hopped to other high-level firms without punishment, The Wall Street Journal report. When making new hires, law firms usually ask about complaints at previous firms but are said to “rarely ask partners for references at their old firm”—making vetting the claims of the lawyer impossible and allowing firm-hopping to occur. One lawyer cited in the report, Jeffrey Reeves, departed from his Los Angeles firm last year after he was investigated for forcing a female associate to perform oral sex in his office and after he was seen making out with a junior partner during an office retreat. Reeves has since been employed at two boutique law firms. Lawyer James Tanenbaum was accused of inappropriately touching females, prompting a settlement with one of his accusers before he departed for another firm—with that firm knowing nothing about the settlement or accusations. Women also made formal complaints about Tanenbaum’s behavior at his new firm, prompting an investigation and the firm asking him to leave. The Catholic Church has been vilified for similar practices, with higher-ups approving priests to be moved from “parish to parish” after sexual assault and harassment allegations.