Three Views of the Conference
Thinking of attending the 7th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference in New Orleans?
After many years in practice, in 2012 I attended my first ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law Conference in Atlanta. A born cynic (and tightwad!), I doubted whether the significant investment of time and effort necessary for me to attend would yield tangible benefits. Despite reassurances from colleagues and friends, I secretly wondered how it would be possible to effectively manage a conference attended by management-side lawyers, the plaintiffs' bar, in-house counsel, union lawyers, government lawyers and even neutrals.
Looking back, I had a great first time experience--on many levels--that left me excited to return to this year's Section Conference in New Orleans. Despite having a diverse set of practice profiles, Labor & Employment Section members are renowned for being collegial and inclusive. I was impressed at the extent to which conference organizers facilitate a broad exchange of ideas and the development of professional contacts in an inclusive, collaborative environment. This truly is the Section's premier event for networking, continuing legal education, and fostering committee enthusiasm and involvement.
I was astounded by the scope of the options available to Conference attendees in Atlanta. The Conference offered multilevel programming geared to cover a broad cross-section of practice experience and taught by a superb faculty. In addition to attending those educational sessions, not only did I have the opportunity to attend a thought-provoking review of recent Supreme Court decisions and hear a luncheon presentation by thought leader Ben Foss, but I also toured the inspirational Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
This year's plans for New Orleans look equally diverse and appealing. Be sure to check out the amazing Conference program in advance so you can identify the sessions you're interested in and coordinate your daily schedule. And, even if you're an introvert, don't forget that the Conference receptions and social activities will be filled with first-timers looking for a fun opportunity to relax at the end of a busy learning day. Rest assured that any guidance or support you may need at the Conference will be readily available. The 'old hands' are highly approachable and anxious to help you get the most out of your experience. Each year, there are also a sizeable number of newbies who seem to seek each other out and start friendships they can carry forward from year to year.
I am confident your mind will be blown by all the opportunities for learning, networking, exploring committee involvement, and simply socializing. Bring an open mind, lots of business cards and a willingness to be impressed.See you at the House of Blues. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Matthew J. LaMourie is a partner with Preti Flaherty LLP in Portland, Maine, whose practice is focused on management-side labor and employment litigation and compliance counseling.
View from a Long-Time Attendee:
In November, I will attend the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law's Annual Conference for the fourth time. In addition to the educational benefits offered by the exceptional programming, the ABA Annual Conference has provided me with invaluable networking opportunities, leadership experience and, most importantly, lasting friendships. For any L&E lawyer who has never attended this conference (especially younger lawyers), here are three reasons why you should strongly consider it:
- The War Stories: The Annual Conference is a unique opportunity to hang out, eat and drink with other labor/employment lawyers and share our collective experiences. As we all know, labor/employment matters boast some of the most interesting and unusual fact patterns. The Annual Conference is the optimal setting for hearing about your colleagues' experiences over the last year--and sharing a few stories of your own.
- Opportunities for ABA Leadership: It is amazingly easy to take advantage of leadership opportunities at the Annual Conference. Simply join an interesting committee, ask "How can I help get ready for next year?" and wait for the requests to start pouring in. Attending the Annual Conference is the most effective way to determine which committee(s) you want to join and then volunteer to help plan next year's meetings.
- Relationships Count: The main reason I return to the Annual Conference every year is to see my friends. In 2007, I attended my first L&E Section Midwinter Meeting for the Employment Rights & Responsibilities (ERR) committee and had dinner with several other young lawyers who were nice enough to invite me to join their group. Since then, I continued to have dinner with this same group of lawyers at the Midwinter Meetings and Annual Conferences. Over the last six years, some of us have gotten married, some of us have been promoted to partner at our law firms and some of us have even had children. All of us, however, have become very good friends and look forward to catching up every year at these annual gatherings.
In sum, attending the Annual Conference has been vastly rewarding both professionally and personally. I highly recommend that all L&E lawyers give it a try . . . at least once.
Monique Gougisha Doucette is a shareholder with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., whose practice is focused on management-side labor and employment litigation.
View from another Long-Time Attendee:
I have been fortunate to attend every Annual Conference since Philadelphia in 2007. In my opinion, it is the best, most comprehensive, and well-balanced program in the county. In addition to the wealth of knowledge offered by the program's speakers, which covers virtually every facet of Labor and Employment Law, the conference also provides an excellent opportunity for practitioners to make and build lifelong connections with lawyers from different states.
Every year I try to attend the Federal Labor Standards Legislation committee's Midwinter Meeting. The Conference provides a second opportunity for me to stay in touch with the friends I have made across the country, both personally and professionally. I make it a point to plan my litigation schedule around the Conference, and this year's program promises to be as fulfilling as the previous six years. New Orleans is a great city to host the conference. I hope to see many of you there.
Jason Marsili is a partner at Posner & Rosen LLP, where he represents unions and employees.
Comments from the Chair
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