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Winston & Strawn has settled on the eve of trial a lawsuit brought against it by a New York partner who claimed the firm broke a deal to exempt him from "decompression," a policy sharply reducing partners' pay after age 65, writes the New York Law Journal.

Throughout the 1990s, Anthony LoFrisco, 74, was one of the law firm's highest-paid partners, based largely on his close relationship with former General Electric (GE) chairman John "Jack" Welch. According to a 1994 agreement with Chicago-based Winston, LoFrisco was to be paid an amount equal to at least 13% of the firm's GE billings.

That arrangement expired in 2001 but LoFrisco claimed in his 2003 lawsuit that the firm agreed that year to extend the deal and exempt him from decompression. He accused the firm of reneging the following year, with decompression reducing his pay from $2.3m (£1.1m) in 2002 to $350,000 (£170,000) in 2004.

Trial in the matter was scheduled to begin Monday before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman. But the parties said in a joint statement yesterday (20 November) that they reached an “amicable settlement” of the dispute on 10 November. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

As a result of the settlement, the parties stated: "LoFrisco's lawsuit will be dismissed and he will resign from the firm on 26 November, 2007."

Both Winston's lawyer, Philip Forlenza of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, and LoFrisco's lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason Anello & Bohrer, declined to comment further.

The settlement ends an unusual suit that had drawn much attention to the issue of how firms handle aging rainmakers, many more of whom are now challenging firm policies that envision retirement at age 65 or earlier. In recent years, many firms have shown greater willingness to waive decompression, mandatory retirement or similar policies for older partners still responsible for large amounts of business.

The sensitive issue of how to manage aging partnerships was thrust into the spotlight last month after Sidley Austin agree to pay $27.5m (£13.1m) to settle an age discrimination claim with 32-former partners who were forced to give up equity partner status in 1999.

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