By Casey Sullivan
(Reuters) - A former Loeb & Loeb bankruptcy partner who
claims he was underpaid for work done in 2012 sued the midsize
law firm in Cook County court in Illinois on Tuesday for
breaching a pay contract.
Michael Molinaro, the former co-chair of Loeb's bankruptcy
practice, claimed in a 10-page lawsuit that his former law firm
failed to pay him at least $160,000 for work done in 2012.
Molinaro said in the lawsuit that he switched titles at Loeb
from "partner" to "of counsel" in February 2012, but that firm
chairman Michael Beck agreed to continue paying him as an equity
As Molinaro described the agreement in court papers, the
firm was supposed to pay him based on his billable hours and
collections. He said he was meant to receive the same amount of
firm profits as other partners who billed clients similarly.
To allow Molinaro to gauge what his compensation should be,
the firm agreed to show him other partners' billing information
and pay levels, something that is provided to all equity
partners on an annual basis, the lawsuit said.
By February 2012, around the time Molinaro informed Loeb
management that he intended to join the law firm Reed Smith,
Loeb refused to provide him with the pay information and
proposed a new compensation agreement, the lawsuit said.
Under the suggested pay arrangement, initially proposed on
Jan. 23, Molinaro would only get paid in full for 2012 if he
continued to work at Loeb "for many months," the lawsuit said.
On Feb. 1, Loeb executive Scott Cotie wrote Molinaro that
the firm was prepared to pay him $160,000 for 2012, but that he
would only receive the sum if he signed the new pay arrangement,
the lawsuit said.
Molinaro did not agree to the terms and left Loeb for Reed
Smith, where he is currently employed as a partner in Chicago.
Molinaro has requested that Loeb provide him with the firm's
partner compensation information so that he can calculate and
receive his 2012 pay. He has asked for a jury trial.
A Loeb spokeswoman said in a statement: "Mr. Molinaro's
lawsuit is without merit, and the firm will defend against his
claims in the appropriate forum."
Molinaro's attorney, Zachary Freeman, said in a statement
that his client brought the lawsuit reluctantly. He said
Molinaro felt he had no other choice than to sue after Loeb
refused to pay his 2012 compensation and has been "stonewalling
him" since early February.
Beck did not return a request for comment. Cotie did not
return a request for comment through a spokeswoman. Molinaro
declined to comment and so did his lawyers and Reed Smith.
Loeb & Loeb is a 300-lawyer law firm with offices in Los
Angeles, New York, Chicago, Nashville, Washington, Beijing and
Hong Kong. It specializes in bankruptcy, intellectual property,
labor and employment, among other practices.
The case is Michael L. Molinaro v. Loeb & Loeb LLP, Circuit
of Cook County, Illinois, County Department, Chancery Division,
For Molinaro: Michael Shakman, Diane Klotnia and Zachary
Freeman of Miller Shakman & Beem.
For Loeb & Loeb: Not immediately available.
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