A junior lawyer who was allegedly sexually harassed by Baker Mckenzie’s former London managing partner Gary Senior said she felt like she was “cast aside” by the firm following the incident in 2012.
Giving evidence to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal today, the lawyer (known as Person A), said: “My feeling at the time was I was cast aside. I didn’t feel I was as important to the firm as protecting its own reputation and Gary Senior.”
Senior asked Person A to stay behind after a small group of junior lawyers had gathered in his hotel room after a night of drinking. He then propositioned her, complimenting her appearance and kissing her on the neck.
Senior’s barrister Gregory Treverton-Jones QC told the tribunal that Senior accepted he “behaved in an inappropriate fashion that night”.
Baker McKenzie, one of its former partners Tom Cassels – now at Linklaters, and its former head of HR Martin Blackburn – now at KPMG, are also being prosecuted in the same case for allegedly carrying out a flawed investigation into the incident.
Following the investigation, Senior was given a final written warning but allowed to keep his job.
Person A was informed by Cassels of the outcome of the investigation in a meeting she described as “horrible” and “intimidating”.
Person A said: “I felt disappointed with the outcome that Mr Senior was staying, although I was not surprised. Seven-and-a-half years ago things were very different and they had concluded it would be disproportionate for him to leave.”
Person A said she felt the firm’s offer to find a way for her to return to work was “hollow” and lacked “substance to back it up”.
She said: “I couldn’t possibly imagine how I could see myself staying at the firm and going about my day-to-day work life and knowing there were a lot of senior people in the firm who knew what had happened.”
Person A left the firm after accepting a financial settlement and signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
In a witness statement read to the court by Cassel’s barrister, Cassel’s said he had not intended to come across as intimidating to Person A.
“It was never my intention to convey that impression…I am very sorry I had that impact on her,” he said.
A spokesperson for Baker McKenzie said: “We’ve learned much from this episode, recognised what went wrong and have well-established and effective policies and programmes in place across the firm.”
The case continues.