I owe my career in the law to the Hon. Jerome Medowar (retired), who was my third grade teacher by day and a law school student by night. Odd as it sounds, he brought me New York Court of Appeals decisions to keep me busy when I finished my in-class work early. Somehow, even though I didn’t understand them, I liked the reading challenge and liked that he took an interest in me. To this day, I keep in touch with him and have benefited from his guidance all these years.
Another mentor, former New York State Senator, Norman J Levy, was instrumental in guiding me to attend the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations (“ILR”) at Cornell University. There, I was exposed to all facets of labor and employment issues and took the basic course in labor law with the prestigious labor law professor Kurt Hanslowe — and I was hooked. After a stint in the United States Army as a combat engineer, I attended the Cornell Law School and continued my studies with Professor Hanslowe. Four decades later, the subject still captivates me just as it did then.
I started my career with a Wall Street law firm (the only one that had a full-blown labor practice at the time). In those days, labor law dealt with the nitty-gritty world of labor unions, strikes, picketing and, occasionally, violence. Then, beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there came a steady flow of new legislation that kept a small group of labor lawyers fully employed — the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act (ERISA), the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), just to name a few. These federal acts, of course, were supplemented by an increasing number of state and local discrimination laws and ordinances.
Today, both labor and employment law and broad social developments impacting employment continue to evolve rapidly. For example, Federal and state wage and hour laws are undergoing significant expansion and changes, broadening their reach. Indeed, President Obama’s June, 2015 proposal on overtime pay, if enacted, would increase the number of American workers who qualify for overtime from 8 to 40%, and which, as result, will have enormous economic, regulatory and legal consequences.
And from Uber’s controversial technology model that’s redefining who an employee is, to debates about the “fairness” of executive compensation, the world of employment law remains endlessly fascinating.
Refined over 40 years, my approach to handling matters is to blend my litigation and contract negotiation experience in order to look around the corner to see — and preempt — potential problems.
I actively seek creative yet practical approaches to problem solving whether it be in negotiating a labor contract or executive employment agreement, or litigating a contentious high-stakes matter.
I also use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) extensively in my practice and have served as a pro bono mediator in dozens of cases in the District Court for the Southern District of New York.