Most Highly Regarded Firms: Illinois 2006 - Management Labour & Employment

Illinois has been experiencing significant growth in employment over the last year according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. In April 2006, Illinois led the nation in monthly growth, creating 23,100 new jobs, the first time that Illinois has taken this title since January 1995.

With 43,600 jobs created between April and June 2006, Illinois is, at the time of going to press, ranked fourth in the US for job creation. There are 34 labour and employment experts – who specialise in advising management – in this chapter, mirroring the current strong condition of the labour market in Illinois.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP has the greatest number of top-tier practitioners (eight) listed in this chapter. Joel Kaplan attracted the highest amount of votes for the firm and was highlighted by respondents as a “very good labour lawyer [who] belongs on the list”. Kaplan’s experience lies in traditional labour relations law including National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) cases handling and advising in complex labour relations issues. Kaplan is a seasoned and “skilled litigator” and “consummate professional” whose experience in complex employment cases was consistently noted. Clients include Cintas and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, the first of which he successfully represented in an unfair labour practice hearing and the latter has relied upon Kaplan for counsel since the 1990s. The “excellent” Gerald Skoning joins Kaplan in the final listing. Skoning is chairman of the labour management relations committee of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute and member of the Advisory Board.

Seyfarth Shaw lawyer Camille Olson is another individual with a “great reputation”. She serves as a member of the firm’s labour and employment law steering committee and chairs its class action discrimination practice group. Involved in some of the country’s largest sexual harassment cases, Olson is a “at the very top when it comes to sexual discrimination matters”. The “well-known” Robert Mignin is senior vice-chair of the employment and industrial relations law committee of the International Bar Association and has a wide-ranging labour and employment practice. Partner Gerald Maatman has a focus on defending employers sued in employment-related class actions and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) pattern and practice lawsuits. James Baird is a “very good public sector labour lawyer” and labour relations counsel to the National Public Employer Labour Relations Association and the Illinois Public Employer Labour Relations Association. Jeremy Sherman is the national chairperson of the firm’s labour and employment practice group. His national practice encompasses some recent high profile labour disputes that place him among the practice area’s leaders. Thomas Piskorski brings the listing for Seyfarth Shaw to a close. With a “solid practice” that covers the representation of management in labour, employment and employee benefits matters, Piskorski is part of a “brilliant team”.

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP has four practitioners in this chapter, one of whom is Illinois’s most highly nominated individual. Barry Hartstein received more recommendations than any other individual and was described to us as a “truly excellent lawyer” who “works extraordinarily hard for employers”. Nina Stillman is a “class act for class actions” and focuses her practice on equal employment opportunity and occupational health and safety matters. The “highly regarded” Philip Miscimarra is co-chair of the Morgan Lewis workforce change practice, which deals with employment, labour, benefits, and related issues arising from all types of business restructuring. Miscimarra was also recommended for his work on high-profile cases such as the representation of the Business Roundtable during the US Department of Labour’s development of regulations to interpret the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Charles Jackson is another respected individual from Morgan Lewis. A specialist in appellate and amicus matters, he highlights the strength in depth and quality on offer at one of the nation’s most respected labour and employment outfits.

Franczek Sullivan PC retains a strong position in the market and boasts an “impressive group” of three partners in this chapter – William Sullivan, James Franczek and Anthony Crement. Sullivan is an experienced and “top-notch litigator” representing employers in the manufacturing, distribution, service and retail industries. Franczek is president of the firm and has a reputable practice for both private and public sector clients including employers from the transportation, banking and energy industries. He is also the chief labour counsel to the City of Chicago for police and fire negotiations and the chief labour negotiator for the Chicago Public Schools. Crement was described to researchers as “splendid” and his “stand-out litigation practice” gained much admiration. He is a fellow in the College of Labour and Employment Lawyers and is also a member of the International Society for Labour Law and Social Security (United States Branch).

Max Brittain is the leader of Schiff Hardin LLP’s labour and employment group and came very “highly recommended” as a “fine, fine lawyer”. He has a great deal of experience in the representation of management before the NLRB and EEOC. Patricia Costello Slovak is a practitioner that sources “have the highest respect for”. Her “tireless” activity within the American Bar Association was noted and she is chairelect of the labour and employment law section of the organisation. Both of these Schiff Hardin lawyers were highly nominated and ranked in the upper echelons of the lawyers we list.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s “natural leader” Columbus Gangemi is included in the following pages. He is former national head of the firm’s labour and employment relations practice group and current managing partner of the Chicago office. Gangemi has a broad client base that includes the likes of Caterpillar, Citadel Investment Group LCC, Gulfstream Aerospace, American Airlines and Illinois State Police. One source described Joseph Torres as a “real gem” and a “very well-known labour lawyer”. Torres recently represented the defendant before the Illinois Supreme Court in Melena v Anheuser-Busch Inc, a case arising from a complaint filed against Anheuser-Busch for terminating the plaintiff ’s employment allegedly in retaliation for the filing of a workers’ compensation claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission. At the time of going to press, Torres was also defending two separate employers in class actions involving various claims arising under ERISA, each lawsuit involving classes of over 5,000 individuals. Torres is also the management programme chair for the ABA’s Developing Labour Law Committee and associate editor for The Developing Labour Law, published by the Bureau of National Affairs.

Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP provides two “outstanding” partners for these pages. The “tremendously experienced” Howard Bernstein formerly served as counsel to the chairman of the NLRB in Washington, DC. After which Bernstein served as special outside labour counsel to the City of Chicago and outside labour counsel and chief negotiator for the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Housing Authority. The “highly regarded” Gerald Golden is the other half of this respected duo and brings with him deep knowledge and experience of negotiating labour contracts for employers from a range of industries, including manufacturers, service providers, newspapers, hotels and telecommunications companies.

The litigation firm Meckler Bulger & Tilson LLP holds the “industry heavyweight” Joseph Tilson and the “very well regarded” Brian Bulger. Tilson is a fellow of the College of Labour and Employment Lawyers and is a “go-to guy for class action employment cases”. Bulger adds further to the firm’s fine reputation with his “impressive practice”, which includes acting as amicus counsel for the Illinois State Chamber in Oubre v Entergy Operations Inc in the Supreme Court pertaining to a suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP is home to another fellow of the College of Labour and Employment Lawyers, Roger Brice. Described to researchers as “excellent”, Brice is “outstanding in the field of national banking industry labour and employment issues”. He also has experience of serving as a litigation specialist in the enforcement litigation division of the Office of the General Counsel of the NLRB in Washington, DC. Joining Brice in this chapter is Richard Marcus, “one of the deans of the employment bar”. Marcus is recognised for his activity within the ABA, specifically for his work with the Federal Labour Standards Legislation and the Development of the Law Under the NLRA Committees.

Joseph Yastrow from Laner Muchin Dombrow Becker Levin and Tominberg Ltd is a “key player” and “one of the very best”, according to a source. Yastrow is a member of the College of Labour and Employment Lawyers and the American Employment Law Council. He has recently been involved in matters demonstrating the strength and depth of his practice. These include winning an arbitration involving a termination of employment for threats of violence at a major Chicago tourist attraction and defending an unfair labour-practice class action involving alleged protected activity on behalf of illegal immigrants. The managing partner of the firm and chair of its litigation department, Joseph Gagliardo, received numerous recommendations. Gagliardo was noted as being “extremely active” in the market. He is a fellow of the College of Labour and Employment Lawyers, a member of the Assembly of the Illinois State Bar Association and a director of the National Italian American Bar Association. He is also past president of the Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter, and the Justinian Society of Lawyers. Gagliardo has represented a number of public sector employers, including the State of Illinois, State Treasurer, City of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Board of Education, and the City Colleges of Chicago.

McGuireWoods LLP is represented on these pages by Richard Lieberman, the vice chair of its labour and employment department. Lieberman was described to researchers as a pair of “safe hands” for major companies in a variety of industries. He has represented large financial institutions, a large media company and a privately held coal company in a four-week trial before the NLRB. Lieberman previously served as trial attorney for the NLRB and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, underlining his extensive experience in the field.

Founder of the labour and employment firm Wessels & Pautsch PC, Richard Wessels is a “very good lawyer [who] deserves to be on the list”. Wessels is a former chairman of the labour committee for the DC based Association of General Merchandise Chains and a member of the Chicago Bar Association’s NLRB liaison subcommittee. Sources noted that Wessels, who is based in the St Charles office, possesses a “quite exceptional mind”.

Lawrence DiNardo from Jones Day was “highly recommended” for inclusion in this chapter. DiNardo has represented clients such as Wal-Mart Stores in matters including race discrimination, and wage and hour class actions and is renowned for his employment discrimination litigation. He also has a significant amount of appellate experience and is a member of the College of Labour and Employment Lawyers.

The “incredibly well known” George Matkov of Matkov Salzman also makes the cut, representing the firm he established in 1983. Known for his work with complex labour and industrial relations matters, Matkov has considerable expertise in the areas of salaried and hourly compensation systems, gainsharing programmes and job evaluation systems.

Baker & McKenzie LLP has one inclusion in the final chapter – Andrew Boling. Boling is a “cross-border expert” whose work includes enforcing confidentiality agreements and covenants not to compete in the cross-border context, implementing global workforce reductions and collective redundancies, preparing cross-border employment and assignment agreements and preparing and implementing global codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility programmes. The international nature of his practice is said to benefit from the platform that Baker & McKenzie provides.

Multiple sources “would highly recommend” Lawrence Casazza from Vedder Price Kaufman & Kammholz PC. He is a “truly sophisticated negotiator”, who has acted for clients including University of Chicago Hospitals, PepsiAmericas and McCain Foods. His “phenomenal skill” was highlighted many times during the research, justifying his reputation as a “leader in the field”.

Brian Gold heads the employment and labour group at Sidley Austin LLP. Gold has great experience in handling the labour and employment issues of complex business transactions and corporate restructuring. His advice to clients, which include Fortune 500 companies, in connection with corporate acquisitions was also noted. He also represents clients in the courts and before the NLRB and arbitrators with “skill and panache [that] puts [him] among the best in the business”.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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