"The Section has succeeded again ..."
I am pleased to report that the Seventh Annual Section Conference received rave reviews from all quarters and constituencies of the Section. Over 1,300 members attended and were not disappointed with the CLE programs they attended, the social networking at both the Thursday night Second Line that led for many blocks from the Hilton to the Loews and ended in the Diversity Reception in a large piazza next to the hotel and the Friday House of Blues reception. Imagine a long line of lawyers walking in a traditional New Orleans parade behind a group of excellent jazz musicians.
EEOC Commission Chai Feldblum told us she has found the Annual Section Conference to be "invaluable in terms of seeing people from across the country and having conversations about cutting-edge employment issues that employees and employers are facing . . . and I always learn something from the panels!"
Ryan Haggerty, a union lawyer from Chicago, noted that he has attended a number of conferences in the past and this one was very well organized, social events were great, and the CLE was invaluable. [At right: Don Slesnick enjoys the second line to the Section Diversity Reception.]
Joe Torres of Winston and Strawn in Chicago stated that, in addition to seeing lawyers he had not seen for years, the conference "provided top-notch programming and the ability to network with members of the labor and employment law bar, as well as academics, neutral, judges and in-house counsel, is an invaluable component to this conference."
Bill Lurye, AFSCME General Counsel, remarked that he has been to all of our annual conferences and observed that "the topics are cutting edge with high quality experiences speakers."
Karen Mock, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor, liked best the program on portable devices and the secrets they reveal--another one of the fascinating panels from the Section's Technology in the Practice and Workplace Committee. She stated, "The Section has succeeded again to put on a top-notch conference that provided substantive information and practical tools to enhance my legal skills and great networking opportunities."
Marilyn Teitelbaum, a union lawyer from St. Louis, claimed, "There is not wasted time at this conference. In fact, if I had a criticism it would be that there were too many presentations I wanted to hear that ran at the same time." [At left: One of several bands that performed at the Section Reception at the House of Blues.]
Ron Kramer of Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago thought this was an excellent conference. "I had lunch with a client last week who, unbeknownst to me, also attended the conference. He could not get over how well-run and valuable it was in comparison to some other educational law conferences he has attended."
David Rosenfeld of the union firm Weinberg Roger and Rosenfeld has not attended many joint labor-management conferences because he has preferred speaking and attending meetings of exclusively union-side lawyers. However, in New Orleans he discovered a "good opportunity for each side to point out the problems and tactics that the other side faces. This is the point of having panels with opposing views." One of the best parts about being at any conference, according to David, is meeting lawyers he has not seen in years. This was a good conference for him because "having personal contact with (management lawyers) . . . helps us all to do a good job in solving problems for our clients."
Ted Clark of Rosemont, Illinois enthusiastically stated, "This year's CLE program in New Orleans was outstanding!" He said the younger lawyers from his firm who attended were quite pleased with what they learned. In addition, Ted thought that the social and networking events were super, especially the party at the House of Blues.
As our activities switch gears from the New Orleans Annual Section Conference to the Committee Midwinter Meetings, you should be aware that the standing committees will give our members opportunities to explore the depths of the many substantive areas in which we work. This section will focus on the first few meetings.
- The State and Local Government Bargaining and Employment Law Committee will meet in late January and follow up on the fiscal issues confronting the public sector employers and unions. In New Orleans, there were very informative discussions on the Chicago teachers strike and how fiscal issues are handled at the bargaining table. In January, the Committee will have a special presentation on the Detroit bankruptcy case that has opened up many constitutional issues involving pension funds and their annuitants and the basic problem of delivering municipal services. A lawyer who represents unions in that case will be presenting an update on the issues that have been argued thus far. The Committee also plans to have an update on the oral argument in the very important fair share case, Harris v. Quinn.
- Employee Benefits will meet in the first week of February and among the matters that are on the agenda are a Supreme Court update by lawyers who are well acquainted with the pending cases on which cert petitions have been granted or are pending. The Committee will pick up on the ACA discussions of which there were five in NOLA and focus on an update and how plans are monitoring their grandfathered status and complying with the new rules for non-grandfathered plans. A key highlight of the meeting will be a panel discussion with The Honorable Edith Jones, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She has authored many ERISA decisions and will talk with EBC members about how the courts of appeals view and decide these cases.
- The Federal Sector Labor and Employment Law Midwinter Meeting will held in the second week of February. The program agenda will include a session titled "Furloughs and Other Impacts of Sequestration."
- The Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee also will meet in February. Highlights will include an overview of the FLSA issues in the Solicitor's Office, class actions, ethical issues in complex labor standards cases, and a midterm review of the U.S. Supreme Court docket by Tom Goldstein, publisher and regular contributor to the SCOTUS blog.
- ADR will meet in mid-February and will feature as Scholar-in-Residence Professor Lamont Stallworth, who was on the very successful workplace bullying panel in New Orleans. Professor Stallworth will explore how ADR can be useful in dealing with this very serious workplace problem.
I am hopeful you will plan to attend one or more of our 2014 Committee Midwinter Meetings.
Chair, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law
Photos taken by Joel D'Alba
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