This is my first column as the President of the College, and I am honored to serve in this capacity. I just got back from St. Petersburg, Florida where I chaired our first Board of Governors meeting of the year and I got to use my new gavel. I want to thank our Immediate Past President John Runyan (Michigan) both for the gavel and for his years of service to the College. I thought I would use this opportunity to share some news as the College kicks off its 25th Anniversary Celebration this year. This column will also help answer the perennial question of “what exactly does the College do?”
Well, that’s the big news. Our College was founded in 1995 and we started off with 125 initial Fellows. Since then, we have grown to 1,529 Fellows and have continued to honor outstanding sustained legal careers in our field, to preserve the history of labor and employment law, and to promote civility in our professional practice area. We are looking forward to a very special Annual Induction Dinner on November 14, 2020 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Planning is well underway for making this the most significant dinner since our first event. Stay tuned to the website for updates as we roll out announcements about our plans to celebrate our twenty-five year history and our goals for the years to come.
Our volunteer Circuit Credentials Committees around the country are now busy vetting the 94 nominations we received for induction. I am pleased to announce that among these 94, we have 28 union and employee side advocates and 13 neutrals, thus adding to the “constituent diversity” growth that was a component of our Strategic Plan. We wish the nominees success in this process and thank the hardworking volunteers at the Credentials Committees for the work ahead. Even if you missed this cycle, we urge you to start a list of potential nominees for the February 2021 deadline, and we ask you to keep in mind our goal of diversifying the College’s membership.
And did I mention that I was in St. Petersburg? The Board was there in conjunction with the Regional Conference of the Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits, with over 70 Fellows in attendance. In addition to numerous networking receptions and meals, there were four substantive panels, including a presentation on civility by a panel of judges: Hon. J. Michelle Childs (U.S. District Court, South Carolina), Hon. James E. Graves, Jr. (Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals), and Hon. Charles R. Wilson (Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals). This program is illustrative of a substantial uptick in regional programming, which was another component of our Strategic Plan. We want to thank Homer Deakins for chairing these events under the BRAC rubric (Board Regional Activities Committee). If you want to help BRAC in your area, please contact Homer or Susan Wan at our national office in Annapolis. Last year we saw a variety of regional meetings in New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and many other locations. More are planned for 2020.
The College’s Strategic Plan also identified a goal of reaching out to law students and new lawyers to bring our message of civility and professionalism to those at the very start of their legal careers. Toward that end, I chaired a committee of Fellows who are law professors to develop a 60-75 minute class on civility that could be taught at law schools. The class is designed to be flexible in that it can be presented as a session in a semester long Professional Responsibility or Labor/Employment law course. It can be used as a lunch or evening program for a labor/employment law club on campus. It could be presented as a panel in the context of a larger educational conference. Our plan is to pilot this class in several law schools around the country in 2020 with the goal of making it available nationwide in 2021. Thanks go out to all who have helped in this effort so far and to Professor Ruben Garcia who is presenting the inaugural class at the University of Las Vegas Law School in March.
Finally, the College is committed to completing its current Video History Project film on the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike during which civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The film will focus on the need for a legal framework for public sector collective bargaining to avoid the kind of violence symbolized by this tragic historical event. The film is a work in progress as the College hopes to raise additional funding in the context of its 25th Anniversary Celebrations.
So, you may have concluded from reading the above that the College is about more than just honoring the hard work and professionalism of outstanding veteran labor/employment lawyers. There are a multitude of service opportunities so that Fellows can give back to their communities by working with the College. So, take off those tuxedos and evening gowns and join us in the trenches by providing “Leadership for a Greater Purpose.”
Yona Rozen joined the Board on January 1st as a member of the Union contingent, which also includes Lisa Moss, Tom Brooks and Jon Rosen. Yona currently serves as the Associate General Counsel for AFL-CIO in Washington, DC. Before relocating to Washington, DC in 2014, Yona spent many years in Dallas where she was most recently a named shareholder in the firm Gillespie, Rozen and Watsky, PC. Inducted a Fellow in 2006, Yona was a member of the 5th Circuit Credentials Committee for four years and has spoken at the 5th Circuit Regional Meeting in New Orleans. Members of the Board of Governors, which consists of sixteen Fellows representing all four disciplines, serve two three-year terms. The immediate Past President serves as the 17th member of the Board for a term of one year.
David Borgen is the twenty-fourth President to serve the College. Alan Symonette, Arlene Switzer Steinfield and Lisa Moss assumed the three other slate positions – Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, respectively. Profiles of all Board Members can be found on the College's website and contact information can be found in the front of your directory. (The 2020 Directory was mailed last week.)
The joint regional program of the 4th, 5th and 11th Circuits proved to be another successful event. Over seventy Fellows were welcomed by beautiful weather in St. Petersburg, FL at the historic Vinoy Hotel. Thank you’s go to the Planning Committee, represented by all three regional committees, for their efforts and to all the speakers who shared their time and expertise as panelists.
The weekend’s events started with a casual dinner at a local restaurant where guests enjoyed an evening of good food, good drinks and good company. The Saturday morning Civility and Professionalism panel featured three esteemed judges (Hon. Michelle Childs – USDC SC Dist; Hon. James Graves – 5th Cir. Ct of Appeals; Hon. Charles Wilson – 11th Cir. Ct of Appeals) who shared their insights and experiences on civility in the courtroom. Fellow Randy Johnson and Lynn Rhinehart, from the Economic Policy Institute, discussed and debated recent happenings in the legislative landscape. NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb shared updates on current cases facing the NLRB. The final panel featured four speakers exploring the very real intersection between labor and employment law and criminal law. Fellow Cynthia Sass, Jo Ann Palchak (Law Offices of Jo Ann Palchak, Tampa, FL), Jason Pill (Phelps Dunbar, Tampa, FL) and Brian Albritton (Phelps Dunbar, Tampa, FL), discussed how to investigate allegations in the workplace dealing with regulatory or criminal wrongdoing with a focus on best practice, privilege issues, and ethical considerations.
The program and venue garnered lots of positive feedback and many Fellows were already inquiring about, and looking forward to, the 2021 program. Materials are posted on the CLEL website.
Special thanks to the sponsoring firms: Bradley Arant, Burr & Forman LLP; Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP; GrayRobinson PA, Jackson Lewis, Ogletree Deakins; Rod Tanner & Associates and Steptoe & Johnson PLLC!
A full house for the Judges’ Panel on Saturday morning
The processing of candidates for the Class of 2020 has begun. As is our tradition, we are encouraging input from all Fellows by asking you to review the complete list of candidates, and if applicable, call, write or email the chairperson of the Circuit Committee responsible for vetting the candidate with your comments, positive or negative.
The opinions of our Fellows are an important element in deciding who is offered membership and this information will be used as a part of the Circuit Committee deliberations and the Board's review of all candidates. It is vital that if you have an opinion, you make it heard. Positive feedback from Fellows could be the determining factor for a candidate who looks good on paper but is not known by any of the committee members. If you prefer to complete a reference form, you can do so by clicking here, or contact Susan Wan for the Word version of this document. Please note that the online reference cannot be saved and completed at a later date.
The Credentials Committees will submit their recommendations to the Board of Governors for final determination by April 27, 2020, so we ask you to submit any comments well in advance of this deadline so the committee has adequate time to incorporate your opinions into their committee deliberations.
It is hard to believe that later this year we will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the College’s first induction dinner. What is slated to be an epic celebration will take place on Saturday, November 14, 2020 at the iconic Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Known as the location where the Golden Globe Awards takes place every year, the International Ballroom will be host to our festivities as we recognize and acknowledge the past and look forward to the future of the College. Fellows being inducted as part of the Class of 2020 will be treated to an elegant evening which will salute their accomplishments and also celebrate the College on such an auspicious occasion.
The Board of Governors is currently working on plans for this memorable event. Details will be shared throughout the year. Your first assignment – save the date!!
◊ The DC Region of the National Academy of Arbitrators will be hold their annual lunch meeting entitled Hot Topics in Labor Arbitration at the DC Bar, 901 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm on April 1, 2020. Details, including how to register, can be found by clicking here. Fellows, who are not DC Bar LEL members, can register for the Sponsoring Organization rate of $45.00.
◊ The 2020 National Academy of Arbitrators Annual Meeting & Education Conference will take place at the Grand Hyatt in Denver, CO from May 6-9, 2020. The NAA is encouraging Fellows to attend this year’s event, the theme of which is “Expanding Beyond Borders.” A listing of panel topics is attached and will include an address by NAA President, and College Fellow, Barry Winograd. The NAA is also offering College Fellows discounted registration fees. A discount of $200 per person is available for multiple registrants from labor and employer organizations; 50% per person for non-member arbitrators, interns and students; and a $100 per person discount for NAA members who have been admitted within the past three years. To register, please visit the NAA website at www.naarb.org.
• Fellow Sally Griffith Crimini (pictured left) , a national leader in the field of ADR, has been named by her firm, Leech Tishman, as Chair of their ADR Practice Group.
• On January 16th, Fellow Ruben Garcia (pictured right) spoke at the launch event of the Clean Slate for Worker Power Report. Issued by Harvard Law School and the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program, the Report is the collaboration of academics, attorneys and labor advocates who “sought innovation, boldness and comity” to answer the question – what would labor law look like if, starting from a clean slate, it was designed to empower working people to build a truly equitable American democracy and a genuinely equitable American economy. More about this report can be found here.
• Fellow Jeremy Glenn (pictured left) has been named a 2020 Client Choice winner by Lexology and the International Law Office (ILO) in the Illinois Employment and Benefits Law category. This is the second time that Mr. Glenn has been honored with this award.
• Fellow Danny Kaufer (pictured right) was recently conferred with the prestigious designation of Advocate Emeritus (Ad. E.), meaning Lawyer Emeritus. Awarded by the Barreau du Quebec, the distinction recognizes outstanding merit of members of the Quebec professional order of lawyers and acknowledges their professional accomplishments and exceptional career paths, which have strengthened the image and reputation of the profession. Different from the Queen’s Counsel designation, Quebec bestows this honor on a very small percentages of lawyers.
• Fellow Bill Pilchak, who recently retired from Ogletree Deakins, is now concentrating on publishing his legal thriller novels. The first two are both labor and employment law related. Bill is President of Traveling Keyboard Books.
The College mourns the recent passing of Fellows H. Reed Ellis, George Nicolau and William Powers.
Fellow H. Reed Ellis (New York, NY) passed away on January 9, 2020 at the age of 77. Inducted in the Class of 2003, Reed was an honors graduate of Harvard College, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and held a PhD from Columbia University. He shared more than once that the professional “credential” of which he was most proud was “Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.” And he perfectly embodied the ideals and principals of the College. Reed was widely read, an avid student of the Civil War in particular and US (and UK) military history generally. He had a great sense of humor and many wonderful stories to tell. He had a reputation as a tough but fair management negotiator, and some of his closest friends were lawyers representing unions. Donations in his memory can be made to the Harlan Reed Ellis Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of North Central Florida. His obituary can be read here.
Fellow George Nicolau (New York, NY) passed away on January 2, 2020. He was 94 years old. Inducted a Fellow in 1998, George was most famous for his rulings as the independent chairman of the Major League Baseball’s arbitration panel in the 1980’s, including his ruling against baseball owners in two collusion cases. He was considered a giant among labor arbitrators and enjoyed a storied career which lasted more than six decades, and included serving as President of the National Academy of Arbitrators from 1996-1997. Before his legal career, George served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, flying missions over Germany which ultimately resulted in the loss of his leg. He went on to receive his undergraduate degree from University of Michigan before attending Columbia Law School. As a College Fellow, he served on the 2nd Circuit Credentials Committee, as a member of the Board of Governors, and was filmed as part of the College’s Video History Project. His obituary can be read here.
Fellow William Powers (Tallahassee, FL) passed away on February 2, 2020 at the age of 80. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Bill graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and practiced for over forty years as a preeminent attorney in the field of public sector labor relations and employment law. While his career began in Cleveland with the NLRB, he relocated to Tallahassee, FL to become General Counsel for the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission. Thereafter, he transitioned to private practice where he represented the Florida Sheriffs Association, eventually becoming their General Counsel. Inducted a Fellow in 1997, Bill was also involved in the ABA LEL Committee on Government and Employment Law and was an adjunct professor at both Nova College of Law and Florida State University. Donations in his memory can be made to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, an organization Bill and his wife Karen supported generously. His obituary can be read here.
Fellows are encouraged to include the College logo on their website or as part of their email signature block. Two different formats are available for download - .jpg or .eps. Please contact Susan Wan if you would like a logo file in a different format.