Ellen Pao’s law suit seeking $16 million against former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is over. It ended with a defense verdict. This high profile case, according to an Associated Press article on March 23, 2015 “put a spotlight on gender imbalance in Silicon Valley has prompted some technology and venture-capital companies to re-examine their cultures and practices, even before a jury reaches its verdict.” After the verdict, Pao reportedly said, “I have told my story and thousands of people have heard it. If I helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,” Associated Press, Mar. 27, 2015.
The defense verdict was probably in no small measure the result of the cross-examination by defense lawyer Lynne Hermle (pictured above) that told a different story from Pao’s. Counsel’s cross was designed to show that Pao had misrepresented and twisted facts. Hermle used the concession-seeking cross-examination technique to show that Pao was passed over for promotion due to her conflicts with colleagues, not out of gender discrimination. For example, as a visual, Hermle used a chart that Ellen Pao had created that listed “resentments” that she had against a partner in the firm. Hermle got Pao to concede that she clashed with a secretary who was late for work and got in a yelling match with a fellow female junior partner. Lynne Hermle’s cross-examination is an excellent example of how to get a party to concede facts and tell the cross-examiner’s story to the jury.