Leaders Of Barber Ranen Exchanged Racist, Sexist, Antisemitic Emails For Years

laptop shocked surpriseIn May, John Barber and Jeff Ranen made headlines for leading more than 100 lawyers away from Lewis Brisbois to join their new firm, Barber Ranen. The mass exodus of attorneys inspired the longtime chairman of Lewis Brisbois to step down, with the firm completely revamping its management committee at the same time.

Now, Barber and Ranen are making headlines once again, and this time, the news is quite alarming.

According to the New York Post, Barber and Ranen are alleged to have “routinely” sent emails using incredibly inappropriate language. Here are just a few of the derogatory emails called out by the Post:

“Kill her by anal penetration,” Barber emailed Ranen in June 2012, reacting to an overtime request from another Lewis Brisbois attorney. On at least three occasions, Ranen described female attorneys as “c–ts.”

In a March 2022 missive, a Los Angeles judge was described as “sugar t-ts.” when Barber joked about how the judge liked to be addressed.

In a November 2012 note, Ranen noted to Barber that another partner has “huge t–s.” That female partner has since decamped to Ranen and Barber’s new firm.

The Post then details several racist and anti-LGBTQ emails exchanged between Barber and Ranen, where the N-word is used frequently and homophobic remarks are made gratuitously.

This sounds quite different from the “hopeful and inspiring” messaging Barber gave in a prior Above the Law piece, where he said this of himself and Ranen: “We are both singularly focused on paying it forward. We try as we can to create opportunities for our people to foster their careers, to mentor, to create an environment which is conducive to becoming the very best that you can be as a lawyer.”

Forward has a separate report on the antisemitic language used in emails between Barber and Ranen. These are just a few of the offensive exchanges:

In a Sept. 13, 2012 email, for example, Ranen wrote to Barber, “I forgot to write that we will not hire Jews” after the latter recommended a person — his or her identity was redacted by the company — for a litigation contract. In another email earlier that year, Ramen told Derek Sachs, a former partner at Lewis Brisbois, “This is the reason why people don’t like Jews,” in response to an invoice submitted to them. In a June 2012 email thread that begins with discussing a new hire, Ranen referred to Barber as a “Jew” for owing him money.

The pair also singled out observant Jews. In a January 2014 email, Ranen boasted to Barber that he deliberately emails a Jewish opposing counsel on Shabbat after the person requested that he not be sent material related to a deposition on Saturdays. “This Jew is cracking me up,” Ranen. “I almost ONLY write to him on Saturday mornings.” Barber responded, “Jew hater.”

Why are these emails just coming to light now? That’s explained in a statement Lewis Brisbois supplied to the Post. Here it is:

“Following their departure from our firm, a complaint was lodged against John Barber and Jeff Ranen to a member of our management committee. In keeping with our firm’s policies and our responsibility to our personnel, an investigation was undertaken and the firm was shocked to find dozens of emails between John Barber and Jeff Ranen containing highly inappropriate and offensive content.

“The firm is continuing to conduct a broader review of the behavior and conduct of John Barber and Jeff Ranen. We are deeply troubled by their use of prejudiced language and racial and cultural slurs aimed at colleagues, clients, attorneys from other firms, and even Judges.”

As our audience knows all too well, law firm emails that are the subject of internal investigations — disgusting as they may be — aren’t typically leaked to the press. One wonders what happened here.

The firm did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): Barber and Ranen have resigned from the firm. Read more here.

‘Woke’ LA firm partners routinely used vile language to refer to women, POC, emails show [New York Post]
Prominent law firm partners routinely made offensive comments about Jewish people, internal emails show [Forward]

Earlier: Partners Lead Mass Defection From Biglaw Firm, With Up To 140 Lawyers Set To Join New Boutique

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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