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October 25, 2014

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Paula Deen dumps legal team after admitting slurs

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Peter Kramer/NBC/AP

In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, in New York.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Paula Deen has replaced her lead legal team, the latest fallout from her admission she used racial slurs in the past.

Deen announced last week she had cut ties with her longtime agent who helped make her a Food Network star and start a media and merchandising empire that has largely collapsed.

Grace Speights, an attorney for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, has been retained as the new lead counsel for Paula Deen Enterprises Inc. and other defendants in an employment discrimination lawsuit, according to Jennifer Costa, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based firm.

The lawsuit was filed by Lisa Jackson, who once worked as a manager at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, which Deen co-owns with her brother, Bubba Hiers. Jackson says she was sexually harassed and worked in an environment rife with racial slurs and innuendo.

Asked in a deposition if she had ever used the N-word, Deen replied: "Yes, of course." But she also insisted "it's been a very long time."

According to the Morgan Lewis website, Speights specializes in defending clients in employment discrimination cases and consulting clients on best practices in corporate diversity.

Court documents filed Thursday asked that all future documents in the case be sent to the Morgan Lewis & Bockius Law Firm and to the Weiner, Shearhouse, Weitz, Greenberg and Shawe law firm in Savannah.

The Oliver Maner law firm and the Gillen Withers and Lake firm in Savannah had been representing Deen, Hiers and their businesses.

Patricia Glaser, of the Los Angeles law firm Glaser Weil, told the Associated Press that Deen had also retained that firm as a general counsel and that it would be monitoring the case.

Calls to each of the other law firms were not immediately returned.

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