Where Should You Start a Research Project?
Final exams are over. Now, summer clerks are joining experienced lawyers around the nation, including many members of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law. Some students will clerk for firms that represent employers. Others will work for unions and their law firms, and some students will join firms representing employees. Students work at large, small, and medium sized firms, in corporate legal departments, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Most law students have never had a course in labor or employment law. Now they are getting their initial assignments.
Lawyers who practice labor and employment law have clients who require counsel and representation on a wide range of issues. The legal questions we ask our clerks to research often involve peculiar fact patterns in single plaintiff discharge or discipline cases. We might describe a research problem involving a collective bargaining negotiation that has reached a stalemate and parties that are considering their rights, obligations, and risks. Many students this summer will get assignments involving regulatory changes affecting employee benefits, and instructions to analyze the regulations and recommend changes in employee benefit plans. Minimum wage and overtime class actions and collective actions will focus many students' attention on complicated procedural options, as well as the myriad claims and defenses that parties can raise. As our summer associates settle in, we will ask them to join us in searching for practical solutions concerning the odd situations about which our clients ask us involving intermittent medical leave, families of soldiers, employees starting new employment who have signed non-compete agreements, veterans returning from service, etc.
As each student intern earnestly listens to the thorny circumstances from which their research task arises, they face the reality that none of the questions raised by real clients are answered by anything they learned in law school. So where do they begin?
New associates who join us after taking their bar exams will share the dilemma of how to quickly and effectively get a start on a research project. In fact, each of us finds that our clients often present perplexing issues that challenge us to find a basis for offering sensible advice and effective solutions. So where do we start?
Leading lawyers in all of the Section's constituencies know that the most helpful way to end a meeting with a clerk involving a research assignment is to tell them where to find the Section treatise on the relevant topic. The Section has a treatise that will either answer or provide a valuable head start on every research assignment we give, or on any question a client may ask in the area of labor and employment law.
In cooperation with Bloomberg BNA, the Section publishes 26 titles. In the last year, we have published new editions of many of our treatises, including several of our most popular volumes:
- Covenants Not to Compete: A State-By-State Survey (8th Edition)
- The Developing Labor Law (6th Edition)
- Employee Benefits Law (3rd Edition)
- Employment Discrimination Law (5th Edition)
- How Arbitration Works (7th Edition)
- The Railway Labor Act (3rd Edition)
In addition, most of our other treatises have recently published supplements.
Most lawyers consider these treatises the most complete references available on the law in the areas they cover. They provide analyses of and commentary on Supreme Court cases, important lower court decisions, and significant agency decisions and rulemakings. As with the prior editions, hundreds of Section members contributed to the thousands of pages of these books. Unlike many other works in the field, experts from every constituency produce the Section's treatises, so lawyers who use our scholarly, exhaustive works will find no pro-plaintiff or pro-defense bias. Our authors and editors work meticulously to ensure the perspectives of employers, employees, unions, plaintiffs, and defendants are fairly presented in every topic covered.
The Section's treatises are the essential encyclopedias of labor and employment law. The breadth of their coverage and the depth of their analyses make these books a resource Section members use on a daily basis. Every lawyer who has used them would agree they are the right place for lawyers at all levels to begin a project. They belong on the desk of every lawyer who practices in our field and on the shelves of all law libraries.
Stewart S. Manela
Chair, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law
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