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Sydney head defends Clayton Utz

Sydney head defends Clayton Utz

The incoming partner-in-charge of Clayton Utz's Sydney office has hit out at suggestions that the firm has a problem with its treatment of women.Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Kate Jordan, who…

The incoming partner-in-charge of Clayton Utz's Sydney office has hit out at suggestions that the firm has a problem with its treatment of women.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Kate Jordan, who replaced Julie Levis as partner-in-charge of the firm's Sydney office in January, said she had not encountered any personal instances of harassment or discrimination during her 15 years at the firm.

"My experience of Clayton Utz has been an overwhelmingly positive one," she said. "I enjoy coming to work every day, and what I am wanting to make sure of is that the partners and employees of the Sydney office feel the same way as me."

In November, Clayton Utz settled a sexual harassment claim made against the firm by Bridgette Styles, who was employed as a graduate solicitor with Clayton Utz between August 2007 and December 2008.

Styles alleged that a solicitor with the firm, Luis Izzo, with whom she had been romantically linked, made allegations to Joe Catanzariti, the head of the firm's work-place relations, employent and safety practice group, that she was "conspiring" against a group of lawyers with regards to a sexual harassment complaint.

Transcripts of email correspondence involving Izzo, which made offensive comments against female employees of the firm, were released publicly.

While not commenting specifically on the Styles matter, Jordan said media coverage of the court case was "not a reflection of the Clayton Utz I know".

"My experience is that it's a very supportive environment - and my experience is very supportive of that," said Jordan, who was made a partner of the firm one decade ago while on maternity leave after the birth of the first of her three children. "I have been personally very disappointed about how we have been portrayed in the media."

Jordan's appointment is for three years. She is a partner in the firm's corporate / M&A group and is the firm's relationship partner with the Seven Network.

Clayton Utz has 780 staff in Sydney, of which 90 are partners. Jordan is one of 23 female partners in Sydney.

Justin Whealing

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