News & Politics

What It’s Like to Be a Woman Who Sues Her Employer for Gender Discrimination

I had to figure out how to reinvent myself, says Kerrie Campbell, 57.

Photograph by Lauren Bulbin

Kerrie Campbell, an ex-partner at Chadbourne & Parke, sued her firm—essentially torching her Big Law career.

“After I’d been there a while, there was a distribution of information. I was in the top 20 or higher for revenue generation but like the bottom third in compensation—it was horrific. I’d had 29 years in the business. I started asking questions. I got the sense that it was a very bad thing to suggest the all-male management committee be questioned about anything. My pay seemed to get smaller. My staffing got less. One day, the managing partner came in to say I’d have to leave. At that point, I had generated about $5 million in two years. I was so grief-stricken.

This story is part of Washingtonian‘s feature “What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Washington.” For more:

What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Washington: 62 Women Explain

What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Washington: 62 Women Explain

Look around our town today and your eyes will land on example after example of some ladyboss getting it done. Forget Congress (where, ahem, a record number of female lawmakers were seated this year). Forget the pack of women gunning for the White House (who number five—five!). Women run our think tanks and our museums, […]

“It’s a big deal to take on Big Law, because you’re not going to be able to get another job. I tell my women plaintiffs you have to be prepared that they’ll call you a nut or a slut or dumb. In my case, I had unwavering conviction that the lawsuit was the right thing to do. That was reinforced on day one, when it became public. People I didn’t even know called and texted to say, ‘You go, girl.’ By the time it ended, there were two other named plaintiffs. [The firm settled for $3 million–plus.] But I had to figure out how to reinvent myself. I started my own firm. I joined the Time’s Up legal defense fund [after #MeToo took hold], and over the first six months of that, I got three discrimination cases. I have never, ever regretted for one second speaking up and taking a stand—not for one second.”

This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a possible wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia. Kashino lives in Northeast DC.

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