by Angela Morris (ABA Journal, June 2018)
Like many things these days, it all started with a tweet.
On March 24, Harvard Law School lecturer Ian Samuel tweeted out select provisions of a leaked copy of a mandatory arbitration agreement from Munger, Tolles & Olson. According to the tweets, summer associates working for the firm had to waive their right to sue the firm in court and, instead, submit any claims they might have, including sexual or racial discrimination, to arbitration instead.
“I think this is the grossest thing I’ve ever heard. Munger ought to be ashamed,” wrote Samuel, who didn’t return a call seeking comment.
At a time when the Me Too movement has scrutinized the thought of mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims, Samuel argued that the policy was meant to shield the firm from exactly those types of claims. One of his posts in that thread was retweeted nearly 600 times and picked up by several media outlets. The backlash toward Munger Tolles was instantaneous. The day after Samuel’s tweet, the law firm announced on Twitter that it would no longer require any employee to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement. That same day, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe also announced on Twitter it was ending its arbitration agreements for any employees, including associates. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom dropped its arbitration agreements for nonpartners after reviewing its policies in response to the Me Too movement, according to a Law360 article.