Ellen Pao, dynamo or difficult? Lawyers offer two versions in Kleiner closing arguments today

The lawyers in the Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins sexual discrimination and retaliation trial in San Francisco have started closing arguments, as Heather Somerville of the Mercury News reports in her live blog from the event.

Pao’s lawyers need to weave together how the various slights and micro indignities that Pao says she faced were part of an effort to treat her differently because she is a woman.

Her tale is one of the reversal of fortune, from her point of view. Once Pao was the rising star at Kleiner, under the wing of John Doerr, the famed venture capitalist. She traveled the world looking for potential investments for the firm and received excellent reviews.

But once she reported a bad office romance with a colleague who had powerful protectors, and complained about the firm’s overall culture, the perception of her work began to change without much basis in reality, her lawyers will argue. She was essentially iced out because of the “female chip” on her shoulder, as the company’s investigator quoted Doerr as describing her.

The Kleiner version of Pao’s tenure there is radically different.

The partners, and particularly Doerr, worked hard to give Pao opportunities and to improve in areas where she was weak, the company’s lawyers will argue. Her office romance took them by surprise. They sought then what they thought was appropriate action. But at the core, Pao had performance and interpersonal issues with colleagues that did not improve despite help and feedback.

The jurors received 14 pages of instructions prior to the closing arguments, which will likely conclude today.

Above: Ellen Pao entering court. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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