Saratoga County

Saratoga Springs law firm sues its former vice president

A Saratoga Springs law firm is suing a former employee, claiming she kept them in the dark about her

A Saratoga Springs law firm is suing a former employee, claiming she kept them in the dark about her judicial aspirations while they spent at least $600,000 to further her career with the firm.

Towne, Ryan & Partners filed suit this month in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County against attorney Elena DeFio Kean, a former employee and shareholder in the firm.

Kean, practicing law on her own in Albany, denies the accusations and plans to counter-sue, according to her attorney, Matthew Kelly.

John DuCharme, the listed attorney for Towne, Ryan, claims in the suit that attorneys James T. Towne Jr., Susan F. Bartkowski, Claudia A. Ryan and Kean discussed forming the firm in 2008 and 2009. The suit describes the three other attorneys offering Kean employment and equity ownership, which Kean accepted. She was elected vice president, a position she held until March 2015.

The firm claims Kean decided in late 2011 or early 2012 to pursue a federal magistrate judge position.

The suit contends the law firm spent money certifying and marketing itself as a Women’s Business Enterprise and hired two associate attorneys to expand Kean’s municipal law practice. They did so all with Kean’s representations that she intended to continue with the firm “long into the future.”

She announced plans to members of her firm in January and February that she intended to pursue a judgeship after a position came open, the suit reads. The suit also contends she did so only after discussing her plans with representatives of competing firms. Kean refused to take a leave of absence and the firm terminated her, the suit reads.

Kean’s attorney in June sought dissolution of the Towne, Ryan firm and payment for her interest in the firm, according to the lawsuit.

Kelly said his client did not keep her aspirations to be a judge from the firm. He said many attorneys aspire to be judges.

“The aspiration of lawyers to become judges is well known and certainly has nothing to do with the lawyer’s ability,” Kelly said

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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