Once upon a time, being named a vice-president of Goldman Sachs actually meant something and signified you were an important, senior-ish member of the firm. Then the bank started doling out the titles like candy to the tune of 13,000 VPs and it came to mean "not a 2-bit first year analyst, but not much more important than that." A happy byproduct of the title inflation phenomenon was that management could make a whole lot of employees feel like they were a big deal, without having to do much else. An unfortunate byproduct was that it made those same people feel like they were an essential, integral part of the firm to the extent that they were important enough to have their attorney fees paid, should they encounter some legal issues. But such is not the case!
As Sergey Aleynikov will tell you, Goldman Sachs gets to make case-by-case rulings re: which VPs are real/legit VPs and which are VPs only in fake title/get to pay their own legal bills.
(The former have generally allowed themselves to be thrown under the bus to save the firm's ass, while the latter are coders the bank wants to lock up in federal prison even though more than one appeals court has said no dice.)
Now, ex-Goldmanite Joseph Jiampietro gets to find out if that "managing director" title he had on his business card all those years actually meant something or if he was actually a glorified associate and thereby on the hook for $350,000.
Joseph Jiampietro, a onetime managing director at the company’s investment banking division, was fired in 2014 for failing to tell his superiors that an associate who used to work at the Fed e-mailed secret central bank documents to him, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware. Jiampietro maintains he was a Goldman Sachs officer at the time of the government investigation and was therefore entitled to have his attorney fees and expenses paid by the bank as outlined in its by-laws. The federal probe didn’t result in any charges against Jiampietro. The case may hinge on how a judge interprets Jiampietro’s title of managing director. The same Delaware court this month ruled Goldman Sachs wasn’t required to pay the legal fees of Sergey Aleynikov, a former programmer accused of stealing the investment bank’s computer-trading code, simply because his title was vice president. “Goldman Sachs has wrongfully refused to indemnify him for attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in connection with his successful defense of the investigations,” Jiampietro’s attorney, Adam Ford, said in the complaint.