How We Choose

This article accompanies Get Ready to Rumble.

This is the seventh edition of the "Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys," a joint project produced by Human Resource Executive® and Lawdragon, a media company that has been issuing "best of" lawyer lists since 1989.

What started in 2007 as a guide to the nation's top 50 corporate employment attorneys has grown to recognize 210 employment lawyers for their excellence in guiding employers through the constantly evolving laws governing the workplace. Today's list features 100 leading corporate-side lawyers; 20 specialists apiece in immigration, traditional labor law, and employee benefits and ERISA; and 40 Up-and-Comers, those no doubt destined to make some of the other lists in years to come. (And, indeed we're proud to report that more than a dozen of last year's Up-and-Comers "graduated" this year!)

We'd also like to highlight the HRE/Lawdragon Hall of Fame, which debuted last year. In its second year, we have selected 10 additional legends of the employment bar whose contributions to the field as well as their firms are unparalleled. Very few lawyers are considered for Hall of Fame status -- which begins with 35 years in the employment-law trenches and requires consistent recognition for all-around excellence in counseling clients, contributing to the bar and serving as a visionary to improve workplaces. Up to 10 lawyers will be added to the Hall of Fame each year and retired from future consideration; their achievement will be forever recognized online at

Each of these guides are intended to offer corporate counsel and human resource professionals an unparalleled guide to some of the best lawyers who can help them resolve difficult employment situations and keep them in compliance with the country's increasingly complicated and changing workplace-related laws and regulations.

The process pairs online balloting and submissions with rigorous vetting, as well as editorial and peer review. In December, HRE's more-than-75,000 subscribers and Lawdragon's 500,000 database members were invited to submit nominations for the guide. Nomination forms were also posted on both websites. Three months and thousands of submissions later, the vetting began -- first by Lawdragon's research team and then through each nominee's clients and peers.

To make the cut on the general and specialty lists, a lawyer typically has practiced more than 20 years and amassed a list of accomplishments that speak for themselves -- defending and advising companies in the day's most critical matters, advising them on hiring and retaining the best employees from around the world, and continuing to unravel the ever-evolving world of employee benefits. A recognized attorney has also generally chaired his or her firm's employment department and has been selected to lead his or her state or national employment-bar organization. The criteria for Up-and-Comers is similar, though ratcheted back a bit to account for their 20 or fewer years in practice. All have received glowing recommendations from corporate counsel who have reaped the benefits of their wisdom; in all cases, their clients would hire these lawyers when next they are tested.

The lawyers included on the HRE/Lawdragon lists are also vetted for integrity. Bar records are checked, and peers and counsel are questioned about their views beyond a lawyer's technical and tactical skill. It's important that those who make the cut admire -- even if they don't always agree with -- their colleagues on these lists.

Lastly, an editorial advisory board comprised of a who's who of the nation's corporate employment bar vets the finalists. They discuss their own experiences with the attorneys under consideration and point us in the direction of others who can knowledgably discuss their first-hand experiences with these lawyers. Only those who earn glowing marks from clients, peers, colleagues and judges are awarded the distinction of the Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys.


Jun 17, 2014
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