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Technological, regulatory and demographic changes – along with globalization – present companies with more challenging decisions than ever before regarding federal and state labor law, employment law and employee benefits. Given the complexity of the current labor climate, building a relationship with one legal team that can guide you through new developments, explain your options clearly and help you to make thoughtful, informed decisions can provide efficiency and stability. Our labor and employment law attorneys, who exclusively represent management.

Only a small percentage of cases filed in the courts are putative class actions. Most are wage and hour or discrimination cases. Cases are heard in state and federal courts, as well as before administrative and regulatory boards. Many labor and employment laws will sound familiar: the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the National Labor Relations Act. Most charges are found to have 'no reasonable cause' and many others will be settled before litigation. The best labor lawyers will have good people skills, because they will be interacting with both management and unions.

The most successful ones will be able to convince both management and unions that they have common goals. According to Thomas Linthorst, a partner in Morgan Lewis's labor & employment practice, “those that really can get close to their clients, understand what the client needs, and can think creatively about meeting the client's needs will find that to be a successful approach. When the economy is down, clients are concerned about surviving, which often involves downsizing. Advising on reductions in a labor force is never pleasant. Alison Marshall, a partner at Jones Day, says: "I do think that we move more quickly in comparison to some of the big commercial litigation cases. Also, our cases are not always as big, so associates often get more responsibility. That is a plus, but juniors need to be prepared to take on that responsibility.

Sometimes the intensity of the workload is high, especially when lawyers are gearing up for a big trial. Being responsive is critical. Bettina Plevan, a partner at Proskauer Rose, points out: "Sometimes clients have pressing emergencies, and you have to be responsive immediately. Often lawyers will be dealing with a non-lawyer – an HR professional for example – so they need to be able to translate complex legal principles into clear concepts for them. It’s critical to be able to write well, with a view toward addressing practical problems, and not overwhelming the client. This is also true when it comes to explaining elements of a case or situation to the judiciary.

Wyllie Spears LLP

700-100 Queen Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 1J9

613 569 7002

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