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Partners at LA Law Firm Resign After Antisemitic Emails Surface

Jeffrey Ranen (left) and John Barber (right) of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith

The name partners of U.S. law firm Barber Ranen have resigned after their former law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith found dozens of emails that showed the lawyers using racist, sexist, homophobic, and antisemitic language while they were there, according to Barber Ranen’s chief executive officer.

John Barber and Jeffrey Ranen resigned after the firm requested their resignations, Barber Ranen CEO Tim Graves said in a statement on Monday.

Barber, who was firmwide managing partner at Barber Ranen, and Ranen, who was its chief financial officer, apologized in a joint statement Monday afternoon. They said they resigned “to allow our friends and colleagues to continue on without the cloud of our conduct hanging over them.”

“The last 72 hours have been the most difficult of our lives, as we have had to acknowledge and reckon with those emails,” they said. “They are not, in any way, reflections of the contents of our hearts, or our true values.”

The two men co-founded Barber Ranen, which launched last month with more than 100 lawyers from Lewis Brisbois. Ranen was in the firm’s Los Angeles office and Barber in Newport Beach, California.

Lewis Brisbois said in a statement it was not aware of the emails and that it launched an investigation after it received an anonymous complaint about the lawyers. Dozens of the lawyers’ emails, some dating back to 2008, were first reported by the New York Post and later reviewed by Reuters.

In a March 2022 email provided by Lewis Brisbois, Barber — who led the firm’s employment practice — said one Los Angeles County Superior Court judge likes being called “sugar tits.”

In June 2012, when Ranen complained to Barber about an employee working overtime, Barber responded “Kill her,” including a description of a violent sex act, according to the emails Lewis Brisbois provided.

Ranen in a March 2014 email to Barber, provided by the firm, said he almost always emails work questions to a Jewish lawyer outside of Lewis Brisbois Saturday morning, during the Jewish Sabbath.

“This Jew is cracking me up,” Ranen wrote to Barber, who responded, “Jew hater.” In other emails, the two men used racial, sexist and homophobic slurs.

Graves said in a statement that Barber Ranen will “form a new firm,” adding that its equity partners expressed “their disappointment and disdain for the language Mr. Barber and Mr. Ranen used.”

Lewis Brisbois’ management committee said Lewis Brisbois is conducting a full review of Barber and Ranen’s correspondence and interviewing other employees.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/legal/legalindustry/ex-lewis-brisbois-partners-resign-new-firm-after-racist-sexist-emails-found-2023-06-05/