LEL Flash | Issue: February 2013

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Issue: February 2013

Comments from the Chair

The Speaker, Moderator, Editor and Author Database of Section of Labor and Employment Law

The Section is introducing a new tool to increase the diversity of Section members who present at our conferences, write for our publications, and participate in all of our programs and activities. We expect our new Speaker, Moderator, Editor and Author Database (“Diversity Database” to be an easy and effective channel for Section members to use to communicate their desire to get more involved in the Section. Members and others can access the Diversity Database at


This article explains why I hope every member of the Section will consider using the Diversity Database.

Organizations have a variety of objectives regarding diversity, and those goals determine what an organization means when it says it wants to "increase diversity." In the Section of Labor and Employment Law, what do we mean when we say that "diversity" is one of our highest priorities?

To appreciate how truly broad our diversity objectives are, it is important to understand why the Section exists. Article I of our Bylaws declares that our purpose is to study developments, proposed legislation, and rulemaking in the field of labor and employment law, and provide a forum for lawyers interested in the field to meet and confer. The statement of our mission continues that we will accomplish our goals by sponsoring and moderating seminars, forums, and other programs that promote the advancement of knowledge and practice in the field of labor and employment law, and that we expect this will assist in the professional growth and development of those who practice in our field, and provide an opportunity for us to work with the officials and lawyers of state, federal, and multi-national agencies. Our guiding principles convey our belief that these pursuits by the Section will promote justice, human welfare, industrial peace, and recognition of the supremacy of law in labor-management relations and the employment relationship.

The Section could never achieve its purpose if it consisted of a narrowly defined, single-minded, monochrome, monotone group of lawyers. Whether or not a homogeneous band of lawyers in some other fields of practice might be able to effectively address the pressing legal issues in their specialty, in the practice of the law of the American workplace, a serious study of developments and a genuine comprehension of the constantly evolving issues we face demands that lawyers in our field hear, read, and discuss the views of the full range of perspectives on those issues.

So what do we mean by "diversity" in the Section of Labor and Employment Law? We mean diverse constituencies of lawyers who represent employers, unions, employees, and government agencies. Lawyers who serve as neutral judges, arbitrators, and mediators. Lawyers who teach labor and employment law subjects.

Of course, many of the issues we confront with our clients involve discrimination and equal employment opportunity. We cannot begin to understand these problems without participation from lawyers of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, national origins, ages, etc. who practice in every constituency. It is important for us to hear the views not only of diverse lawyers who represent plaintiffs claiming discrimination, but also those diverse lawyers who represent diverse employers and unions and employees in defending such claims and in areas of our practice. The Section's Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee (DLP) (formerly the Equal Opportunity in the Legal Profession Committee) works continuously to promote opportunities in the Section for diverse lawyers.

Diversity in the Section, however, goes beyond the jurisdiction of our DLP. For us it also means lawyers from all of our constituencies who specialize in representing clients in specific industries, from agriculture and airlines, to construction and chemical processing, to mining and manufacturing, to recreation and retail, etc. The perspectives of lawyers with experience in each of the unique segments of the American economy expands our insights into the challenges faced by lawyers in our field.

Diversity in the Section also means a geographic mix of lawyers from all parts of the country. We know that being an employment lawyer in San Francisco, California means something much different than being a labor lawyer in Beckley, West Virginia. The issues arising for union lawyers in rust belt states are different from what union lawyers are working on in the oil and gas fields of South Dakota. Again, we want to learn from our members in the far flung locales where labor and employment, union and management, safety and health, workers' compensation and employee benefits lawyers are in the trenches.

In sum, we intend the Diversity Database to serve as an important tool in planning our conferences, webinars, publications, trial advocacy competition, midwinter meetings, pro bono activities, and all other programs and events. If our members populate the Diversity Database and make it a robust source of information, it will enable us to identify those who want to have an active role and who can bring diverse perspectives. Go to the Section Website and you will find that the Diversity Database is simple to access and easy to use. Information provided in the Diversity Database will not be available to the public and ABA in general, but will be provided to Section and committee leaders who are planning programs, publications, etc. for which participants are needed.

I sincerely hope you will check out our new Diversity Database.

Stewart S. Manela
Chair, ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law


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Flash Co-Chairs:
Jeremy J Glenn, Meckler Bulger et al | Elana Hollo, National Labor Relations Board | Katherine Huibonhoa, Paul Hastings LLP | Amy F. Shulman, Broach & Stulberg LLP

American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law
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