July 31 (Reuters) - An attorney embroiled in a compensation
battle with his former law firm must attempt to resolve the
issue through arbitration, a California judge ordered on Monday.
Former Perkins Coie partner Harold DeGraff is bound by an
arbitration clause in his partnership agreement with the
Seattle-based law firm, ruled U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S
White. However, DeGraff is not bound by a provision in the
agreement requiring the proceeding be kept confidential, the
judge said, because secrecy would benefit the law firm at
The ruling defused an effort by DeGraff to keep his case in
court on grounds that a 90-day deadline in the arbitration
process, among other things, would hinder his ability to make
"(DeGraff) has not demonstrated that these terms are ...
'overly harsh' or 'generates one-sided results,'" White said in
DeGraff, a corporate lawyer who had worked at the Perkins
Coie office in Menlo Park, Calif., initially sued his former
firm in federal court in California earlier this year. He
claimed it had deducted from his pay business expenses,
unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security costs,
among others, that should have been paid by the law firm.
"These practices have been uniformly applied to dozens of
attorneys classified as W-2 employees at Perkins Coie offices
throughout California," DeGraff said in court documents.
The suit had sought class action status on behalf of all
lawyers who have worked or are working in Perkins Coie's
Perkins Coie is a full service firm with more than 850
lawyers in 19 offices worldwide.
The case is DeGraff v. Perkins Coie et al, No.
For the plaintiff: Monique Oliver and Thomas Duckworth,
Duckworth Peters Lebowitz Olivier.
For the defendant: Ronald McIntire and Melora Garrison,
(Reporting By Casey Sullivan)
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