When it came time to defend against the discrimination lawsuit, she took the same loyal approach and hired her longtime legal team to defend her. She did this despite the fact that the Oliver Maner LLP website fails to list employment law as one of their practice areas. It is never wise for a person bringing or defending against an employment discrimination lawsuit to hire counsel unfamiliar with the nuisances of this area of law. And while it is sometimes understood why a less sophisticated plaintiff or small business owner might hire a familiar attorney to assist, it is nonsensical for a massively successful business owner - with a wealth of financial resources and advisors - to do this. It is not only unwise, it can lead to devastating financial ramifications - as she has undoubtedly learned. Now comes a motion to the court for substitution of counsel and the insertion of international law firm Morgan Lewis, which has a strong employment law team.
We can only imagine how this case might have turned out differently with Morgan Lewis at the helm. Perhaps the earlier efforts at dismissal of the case, due in part to the premise that Caucasian employee Lisa Jackson lacked standing to sue Paula Deen for discrimination against African-American employees, would have been successful. Perhaps they would have worked hard to either settle the case before depositions - if they feared what Mrs. Deen would say under oath - or alternatively coach her repeatedly on potential landmine questions that might come, helping her work through truthful but less damaging ways to respond to the questions. Perhaps Oliver Maner competently tried all of these approaches and more, but I cannot help but wonder could the experience of Morgan Lewis have made these efforts more impactful?
Regardless, the harsh reality is that this change might be too-little, too-late. After all, any financial damage from a potential loss of this lawsuit would likely pale in comparison to what Mrs. Deen has already lost from endorsement deals, business relationships, and customer perception and loyalty.