Issue: January 2019

Chair's Column

I hope all of you had a warm and joyous holiday season, and I wish you a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year! 2018 was another action-packed and productive year for the Section, which would not have been possible without the able leadership of Don Slesnick, Immediate Past Chair, and Brad Hoffman, Executive Director for which we are deeply grateful.

12th Annual Section Conference

The last major event of 2018 was our 12th Annual Section Conference in San Francisco on November 7-10, and, once again, it did not disappoint! Nearly 1,100 labor and employment attorneys gathered from five continents and all over the U.S. in the Great City by the Bay for three days of cutting-edge CLE programs, featuring more than 60 panels spread over 15 separate tracks. A number of attendees commented that this year’s three plenary sessions were the best ever, including an eye-opening session on the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics in the workplace, a superb Supreme Court review presented by our Section Secretary, the Honorable Rebecca Pallmeyer, and a provocative panel on cultural differences of working-class and professional Americans. As usual, the Annual Conference also featured fabulous networking receptions, highlighted by the Conference Reception at August Hall (formerly the famous night club, Ruby Sky), where Conference attendees danced into the night!  

This incredible Conference would not have been possible without the extraordinary talents and hard work of the 2018 Conference Planning Committee members who spent over a year selecting topics and speakers for the Conference. On behalf of the Section, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to each of you for putting on another spectacular Conference!

Believe it or not, planning for next year’s Annual Conference in New Orleans on November 6-9 is already well underway.  So please mark your calendars for what will no doubt be another terrific Conference in 2019 in New Orleans.

New Membership Model

As we begin the New Year, we are poised to implement the ABA’s New Membership Model (NMM), which will provide a unique opportunity for us to grow our Section’s membership, particularly among younger lawyers, government lawyers and small firm lawyers. Under the NMM, ABA annual dues for lawyers in practice for less than twenty (20) years, government lawyers and small firm lawyers will be radically reduced, beginning on September 1, 2019.  Indeed, lawyers who have been in practice for fewer than five years will see their annual dues slashed from $450 to $75 per year! Annual dues will then gradually increase by $75 to $100 every five years of practice thereafter, but ABA dues for government lawyers and small firm lawyers will be capped at $150 per year.  

In anticipation of the NMM, our membership committees have been proactively coordinating their efforts to roll out an action plan for recruiting new Section members in the coming year, which will include a campaign to educate younger lawyers as well as law firm leaders about the extraordinary CLE and networking opportunities our Section will now offer for as little as $150 per year for new lawyers (including $75 for annual Section dues).  We also will direct our membership campaign to in-house lawyers, government lawyers and small firm lawyers, all of which are growing constituencies of the Section. I encourage all of you to spread the word to your clients, friends and colleagues about the NMM and the extraordinary benefits our Section will now offers at a radically reduced cost! 

Midwinter Meetings, Etc.

In the meantime, our Midwinter Meeting season is upon us. Over the next four months, each of our standing committees will convene a Midwinter Meeting to take an in-depth look at recent developments in their field at a wide-range of appealing destinations from San Diego to Chicago to San Juan to Buenos Aires. High-level government officials will attend many of these meetings and offer their insights and opportunities for dialogue and relationship building. The Midwinter Meetings also offer networking receptions and leave plenty of time for leisure and fun activities in these fabulous locations. Visit the Section homepage to see the complete list of Midwinter Meetings and registration information.

Many of our Midwinter Meetings will include “dine-arounds,” diversity and inclusion events, first-time attendee receptions and mentoring programs to ensure that new attendees become quickly connected with the committees’ leadership and get involved with the work of the committees. A number of standing committees also write authoritative treatises in their field published in conjunction with Bloomberg Law, and the Midwinter Meetings provide an ideal opportunity to become a contributor.  

Also on the docket this winter is the Annual Student Trial Advocacy Competition Finals, which will take place in New Orleans January 26-27, 2019.  Out of the 63 teams participating this year in our national competition, 6 teams from around the country have advanced to the final round. Longtime friend and supporter of the Section, the Honorable Bernice B. Donald, once again will preside over the Finals.  

On February 15, 2019, our Section will co-sponsor a Negotiation Institute at the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California, in conjunction with our ADR in Labor and Employment Law Committee Midwinter Meeting. Our co-sponsors include the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution and the National Employment Law Council, a minority bar association with which we partnered on our inaugural Trial Institute last year in Chicago. This is another example of how the Section can successfully collaborate with diverse bar associations and build bridges between their membership and ours, and we will continue to pursue similar opportunities in the future.  

As you can see, we have a packed schedule of upcoming events and meetings in the next six months, and I hope to see you at one or more of them!

15th Annual Law Student Trial Advocacy Competition

The Section’s 15th Annual Labor and Employment Law Trial Advocacy Competition is nearly complete. Winning teams from six regional tournaments will meet at the end of the month in New Orleans where a final victor will be named.

Over the course of the fall, 65 teams representing 35 law schools met to argue a sexual harassment case. The top scoring team from the individual regions will now meet at the U.S. Courthouse in New Orleans at the end of the month to determine a final winner.

The winning teams from the six regions are:

Chicago - Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Dallas - SMU Dedman School of Law

Los AngelesUCLA School of Law

Miami - St. Thomas University School of Law

New YorkBrooklyn Law School

Washington College of William and Mary

We are extremely honored that the Hon. Bernice B. Donald, United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, will once again preside over the last round of the National Final. If you plan to be in the New Orleans area on January 26 or 27 and are available to serve as a volunteer competition judge, please contact Christopher Meacham for additional information. 

The Section established the LEL Trial Advocacy Competition to introduce law students to the challenges and rewards of employment and labor litigation. The Competition offers participating students a forum in which they may develop the skills they will be using as practitioners, and a chance to meet and network with fellow law students and labor and employment law practitioners.

The Competitions are made possible by the outstanding commitment of volunteers from the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law who serve as coaches, judges and evaluators.

The Section's Trial Advocacy Competition Committee Co-chairs are Jay Jaffe, Union & Employee, and Maureen Binetti, Employee and Alisa Arnoff, Employer.

We look forward to announcing the winner of the National Final in the next issue of the FLASH. 

The Section sincerely appreciates the support of the Exhibitors who participated at the 12th Annual Section Conference and we invite all of our members to learn more about them at: