Labor & Employment Law
WHAT IS LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW?
Traditional labor practice deals with the relations between workers and their employers. Attorneys play an important role in labor relations matters, providing assistance to both labor and management. These lawyers counsel their clients concerning plant closings, unfair labor practice charges under the National Labor Relations Act, and collective bargaining negotiations. Attorneys advise both management and labor unions with regard to union organizing, representation elections, and related campaigns. Labor attorneys also become involved in union and employee grievances and arbitrations of those grievances.
Employment law includes the defense of clients' interests in cases involving the violation of civil rights. Attorneys handling these cases may represent clients who allege employment discrimination or the employers accused of these violations. Employment lawyers may also defend employee clients who are sued for breach of employment contracts, breach of covenants not to compete, workplace libel, and slander. They may bring suits from employees who claim wrongful discharge, invasion of employee right of privacy, or intentional infliction of emotional harm. Employment lawyers have become increasingly involved in litigation of claims of zero-tolerance policies and sexual harassment.
Labor and employment attorneys represent their clients in state and federal courts as well as in appeals. They may also represent employers and employees before federal and state administrative agencies. These agencies include state bureaus of employment services, bureaus of workers' compensation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), state civil rights commissions, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the state employment relations board, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Many labor and employment attorneys work for law firms. Large and mid-sized firms may have departments devoted to this practice. Some small and mid-sized firms may have specialized boutique practices in which all of the attorneys specialize in labor and employment issues. Unions may employ labor lawyers to handle issues concerning their members. Corporations may have in-house counsel who focus on labor/employment issues; they may also employ law firm attorneys to assist them with litigation or other matters. Additionally, may attorneys specializing in labor and employment work for state or federal government agencies such as those listed above.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN PURSUING A CAREER IN LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW...
1. Take all labor and employment law classes available - labor law, employment discrimination law, workers' compensation law, ERISA, etc.
2. Sharpen your oral advocacy skills and prepare for hearings and trials by taking a trial advocacy class or participating in moot court.
3. Develop excellent writing skills by writing for one of Loyola's law journals.
4. Gain practical experience by working or volunteering in the field at a law firm, public interest organization, or government agency that specializes in labor & employment law.
5. Sharpen your writing skills and gain valuable experience by externing for a judge during law school.
6. Read widely to keep up with the latest issues and cases in the field. Pay attention to news stories about issues facing employers - the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are great places to start.
7. Get to know Loyola professors specializing in labor & employment law - Christine Cooper, Tom Luetkemeyer, Andrew Cripe, and Jeffrey London.
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW RESOURCES
Peggy Browning Fund - Fellowships & Workers' Rights Conference