NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, CITING FEDERAL
SETTLEMENT, URGES LAW FIRMS TO END AGE-RELATED MANDATORY RETIREMENT
New York State Bar Association President Vincent E. Doyle III today said
he was heartened by the settlement agreement by the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and a New York City law firm
over an age discrimination complaint.
“Arbitrarily requiring a senior attorney to retire or assume a
lesser status in a law firm solely because of age is not an acceptable
policy,” said Doyle of Buffalo (Connors & Vilardo).
“The retirement policies of law firms should be governed by
flexibility and consideration of the needs of the firm and the
individual partner,” Doyle said, noting the State Bar adopted such
a recommen-dation five years ago.
In March 2007, the association’s House of Delegates—by a
unanimous vote—urged law firms to discontinue age-related
retirement policies. That August, at the initiative of the State Bar,
the American Bar Association (ABA) approved a similar resolution.
The catalyst for the recommendation was the report of the Special
Committee on Age Discrimination in the Profession, which was
appointed by then-State Bar President Mark Alcott of Manhattan (Paul,
Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison).
“Mandatory age-related retirement is inconsistent with
accepted employment practices in this country” and is
“against the best interests of law firms, clients and the
profession,” the report concluded.
“Modern experience demonstrates that this practice is both
unwarranted and unwise. A lawyer’s age, standing alone, is not an
appropriate criterion for determining professional capacity or
employment status. A blanket policy of mandatory retirement of law
partners is, at best, shortsighted. It shortchanges not only the
individual lawyer but the firm and society as a whole,” the report
A number of law firms have ended their mandatory age-based retirement
policies since NYSBA and the ABA condemned such policies.
Last week, the EEOC and Kelley Drye & Warren reached a settlement
in a 2010 complaint involving a partner of the firm who was forced to
give up his equity status at age 70. The firm amended its policy shortly
after the complaint was filed.
As part of the settlement, the firm was permanently enjoined from
forcing a partner to retire or otherwise take a reduced status because
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest
voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993