Issue: February 2021

Message from the Chairs

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

It has been quite a start to the not-so-new year. Some good news: the commencement of vaccine programs around the world bringing some hope and light at the end of the tunnel, the transition of power in the United States with the youngest poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, spreading her brand of much needed optimism on US Inauguration Day that was watched by millions. And some not so good news: the ongoing loss of life and adverse toll on mental health, children’s education and economies caused by the pandemic, the unequal access to vaccines for poorer countries, and the discovery of new variants of the Coronavirus in different parts of the world. It all feels like a race against time, but hopefully a race we will ultimately win.

Amidst all this uncertainty, the ABA International Labor and Employment Law Committee is not standing still.  On January 21, Section Chair Samantha Grant and Chair-Elect Kelly Dermody hosted a virtual meeting of the Standing Committee Co-Chairs and Council Liaisons to discuss the Midwinter Meetings, share best practices for presenting meetings in a virtual format, including CLE programs, business meetings and social events. We also talked about plans for the 2022 Midwinter Meetings and beyond. It was no mean feat to gather over 80 members virtually across various time zones and still achieve meaningful engagement and collaboration.

Given how successful our interactive videoconferences were last year, we plan to continue with them in 2021. Given the nail-biting end to the Brexit negotiations at the end of last year, we would be remiss not to examine what the future holds now that that Britain is finally out of the EU. This will be the topic of discussion at our first videoconference of the year in collaboration with the European Employment Lawyers Association (EELA) in March. (Dates to be confirmed.)

The ABA International Labor and Employment Law Committee has a history of outreach programs, and this year we want to bring an even greater focus to forging collaborations with international associations. On January 25, the Section’s Outreach to New and Young Lawyers Committee and the ABA Young Lawyer Division Fellows, Stephanie Young, Brandi Pikes and Nhan Ho, had a very successful meeting with members of AIJA, a global association devoted to young lawyers and in-house counsel, to brainstorm ways in which we can partner with each other. Plans were made for informal networking sessions and joint events. Watch this space!  The Outreach to International Lawyers Committee will continue to seek partnerships with international associations from around the globe, particularly with those that are currently under-represented such as associations in Africa, so please share your thoughts and suggestions on how we can expand our network with our Outreach to International Lawyers Committee liaison, Melanie Crowley.

With the move to a virtual environment, organizations are finding that it is ever more important to ensure that they are making the most of their social media presence to raise awareness of their activities, build their brand, and stay relevant.  We are therefore very pleased to announce the appointment of the Section’s Social Media Committee Co-Chairs.  The Committee held its kick-off meeting on January 14, and the new Co-Chairs have lots of ideas on how to support Section Committees’ activities with a view to growing membership.

We hope you enjoy our first newsletter of the year and wish you all a happy and safe 2021!

Warm regards,

Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum (Union & Employee Co-chair), David Garland (Employer Co-Chair), Melanie Crowley (International Co-Chair), Ify Okoli-Watson (In-House Corporate Counsel Co-Chair), and Nancy Shilepsky (Employee Co-chair)