This article accompanies Facing Up to Obama.
Knee deep in an economic recovery that few can say how far along it really is, Human Resource Executive® and Lawdragon set out to find the nation's 100 leading employment lawyers for corporations, as well as the top 10 counselors in cases pertaining to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the top 10 attorneys in labor issues and the top 15 advisers in immigration matters.
This is the third year the two are collaboratively publishing this list of the Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys and, based on responses and entries received, it appears the list's reputation is growing as an authoritative and popular source.
This year, 135 lawyers were chosen from more than 2,500 submissions and others identified through independent research. Each year, the guide combines the resources of HRE with those of Lawdragon, a Los Angeles-based online legal news and lawyer-ranking site.
Selecting the country's top employment lawyers is an arduous undertaking best achieved by, first, using the wide open Internet to solicit and receive submissions. Lawdragon uses its database of 300,000 attorneys, while HRE uses its database of more than 75,000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of online readers.
All are sent requests for submissions. Lawdragon's staff of professional journalists, lawyers and researchers then collects those submissions and begins the months-long process of parsing through them, looking for those lawyers who truly stand out for the quality of their counseling and excellent results.
Here are a few of the characteristics that define the attorneys on this list:
* They are deeply immersed in the employment law field, specialists who know the nuance of their clients' workplaces and can help them see the problems that are not just on their desks today, but will be coming in the future;
* They generally have at least 15 years of experience in employment law and have written authoritative pieces published in the popular and professional press;
* Their resumes are replete with deep experience, not just sparse illustrations of one or two cases they've handled;
* They are partners in their firm, as partnership is the hallmark of having the respect of their colleagues;
* They receive eager praise from their clients, who can cite illustrations of the important counseling and good work the lawyer did on their behalf.
After Lawdragon researches each lawyer, ranking those traits and a host of others, it turns to the most crucial component of its information-gathering: vetting. The most powerful clients and lawyers in the country are contacted and asked which of these lawyers they would hire to sort through their most difficult matters.
The job can be easy and straightforward at times and extremely difficult and complicated at others. Each geographic region and specialty practice yields dozens of lawyers who provide excellent counsel to their clients and who are well-qualified to be listed. There are firms, amply represented here, that are first-rate in the employment field, with dozens of outstanding counselors.
Narrowing down the finalists from the hundreds of nominees who qualify can sometimes come down to a single nuance or personal characteristic or degree of outreach and availability to both clients and colleagues.
Rest assured, any lawyer listed here can and will provide valued wisdom and perspective to guide employers through these difficult times.