This article accompanies The Trouble with Retaliation.
This is the fifth edition of the "Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys," a joint project produced by Human Resource Executive® magazine and Lawdragon, a Los Angeles-based organization that has been issuing "best of" lawyer lists since 1989.
Starting in 2007 as a guide to the top 50 attorneys, the list has grown and now recognizes 200 employment lawyers nationwide for their excellence in guiding employers through today's ever-intensifying legal landscape.
The list now 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.
The purpose of this contest is to offer corporate counsel and human resource professionals an unparalleled guide to some of the best, most powerful lawyers who are poised to 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 November, HRE's more-than-75,000 subscribers and Lawdragon's 350,000 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 staff of researchers and then through each nominee's 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 companies in cases making headlines, helping financially stressed companies reorganize their pension obligations, ensuring technology behemoths can hire the best talent from throughout the world; the list goes on.
A winning attorney has also generally served as chair of the firm's employment department and has held leadership positions in employment law bar associations. (Criteria for the top 40 Up-and-Comers are very similar, though they typically have practiced fewer than 20 years.)
All have received glowing recommendations from corporate counsel who have benefitted from their wisdom and would hire them again.
To make the lists, lawyers are also required to demonstrate good judgment. Not only are attorneys' bar discipline records reviewed, but professional or personal missteps are also sought and scrutinized -- actions that could undercut the credibility of our guide and of the lawyers recognized.
Lastly, rigorous vetting is performed by an acclaimed editorial advisory board, which provides input based on experiences with those under consideration and an evaluation of the attorney's impact within his firm and in the profession.
Much thoughtful discussion is held with leading lawyers and among the two organizations' respective staffs to ensure the list they bring to you represents the cream of the crop in employment law.