It was, ironically, a meeting of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section, Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee. The American Bar Association (ABA) Web site for the section explains that the Labor and Employment Law section consists of “22,000+ members [who] represent all perspectives of labor and employment law: employer, union, employee, public, and neutral. All are committed to a balanced discussion of employment issues in the United States and abroad.”

The ethics committee is one of the smaller and more close-knit committees
( of the section. It is a diverse, work-hard and play-hard group that warmly welcomes new attendees at the meeting. The quality of the papers is very high, and the members are very thoughtful about the ethical issues presented.

I owe my membership on the committee to Phil Lyon, ‘67, who would not take “no” for an answer when he asked me to join. I’m glad he didn’t. Several other Arkansans are also members of the committee, including Terri Beiner ( UALR William H. Bowen School of Law ), Carolyn Witherspoon ( Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus ), and Steve Jones (Jack, Lyon and Jones ).

Manzanillo was beautiful, sunny and warm—a welcome break from the cold rain and sleet in Fayetteville. It is not as developed as other Mexican tourist destinations and had a sleepy laid back feeling. The conference resort (Las Hadas, the fairies) was the setting for the Bo Derek movie “10” and for that reason in Twilight Zone-esque fashion, the movie looped continuously on the television. in all of the hotel rooms.

And although the temptation was very great to avoid it, we did work while at the conference. The panels included topics ranging from ethical issues in class- action litigation and trial publicity to the challenges in arbitration when one of the parties is unrepresented. Carolyn Witherspoon, Steve Jones and I participated in an all-Arkie panel on “Developing Confidentiality Issues Affecting Attorneys’ Ethical Obligations in Our Increasingly High-Tech Landscape.”

One of the most fortuitous things to occur at the meeting is that I had the chance to have lunch with the Wage and Hours Administrator from the Department of Labor, Paul De Camp. Now I know for most people this is probably a snoozer, but for me it was the opportunity of a lifetime. How often do you get to pick the brain of the man who oversees the enforcement of all federal wage and hours laws? It was great! Seriously, because of my past involvement with workers rights’ advocacy, I was able to talk with him about our concerns and to visit about the agency’s policies and priorities. (And you thought it was just a boondoggle in the sun . . .)paul-decamp-cyndi-nance2.gif

Anyway, I must not have been too scary because we will be hosting Administrator DeCamp at the School of Law this September. He has also agreed to give a keynote speech at the Society of Human Resource Manager’s Diversity Conference and to speak with a number of classes in the Walton College of Business, the Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center and a group of supervisors on campus. So you might say that while I was at the conference I was “working overtime” to make connections for the law school. Sorry, couldn’t resist!