Sunday evening, after dropping off Dean Jim Chen, I was back at Bonefish Grill to have dinner with women from the Arkansas Women’s Forum. During dinner, I met Sven Erik Holmes, who is an alumni of the university and executive vice-chair for legal and compliance at KPMG in New York. He was having dinner with the Chancellor. We visited a bit, and I invited him to the School of Law’s AALS reception in New York. It was fun to meet him and to chat with he and Chancellor White during dinner.

rick-ramsay.jpgThe week was a busy one. Not only did I visit with one of our law library director candidates on Monday, I also got my flu shot (you should, too!) and attended the Washington County Bar Association luncheon. Rick Ramsay (’77), our alum and president of the Arkansas Bar Foundation, was the lunch speaker. I always enjoy attending the WCBA luncheons and seeing our alums and members of the northwest Arkansas legal community.

The next day, Tuesday, another candidate for the law library director position was on campus and I attended a meeting with the academic deans and then the Council of Deans. On top of that full schedule, it was time to prepare for a trip to the meeting of the Labor and Employment Law (LEL) Section of the American Bar Association.

I flew out early on Wednesday. Those of you who follow my blog are familiar with my flight issues, and this time was no different—my flight was delayed and switched three times. I finally landed in Philadelphia and arrived at Loews Hotel. That evening I went to the Section reception, held in an exhibition hall, where various LEL committees had set up booths to recruit new members. As a member of the Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee, I manned our booth along with Eve Hernandez, a member of our committee, and Justin Schwartz, a co-chair of the committee. I’m pleased to say we recruited several new members, and we are looking forward to seeing them at meetings in the future.

Thursday was the beginning of the conference for which 1258 labor and employment lawyers had registered. It was exciting to have that number of labor and employment lawyers in the same place, and the programs were fantastic. Jim LaVaute, the chair of the Section, presided over the opening plenary session given by Christine Cooper, a faculty member from Loyola University Chicago School of Law who gave a terrific Supreme Court update. After working a little bit in the morning, I had lunch with my good friend Mike Green from Texas Wesleyan and Myra McKenzie of Wal-Mart, a fellow with the Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee. She will be joining us at our meetings and participating in our CLE programs. It was great to have her there both as a member of Wal-Mart Legal and as my mentee and sorority sister. It certainly was fun to catch up with them both.


Our committee’s panel discussion on ethics and professionalism was later that day. The program was titled “Ethical Challenges in Employment Law,” and the panelists were Dennis Duffy, a management lawyer; Gail Lopez Hernandez, a union lawyer; myself; Paul Burgoyne, the disciplinary counsel for Pennsylvania and Andrew Altschul, a management employee and mediator lawyer from Washington state. The program was packed—standing room only—with quite a lively discussion, so we think it was pretty successful. That evening, the Section held a diversity reception at the lovely Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which was well attended.

img_1332.jpgAfterwards, Mike Green and I attended the Council Dinner that was held at the Striped Bass. I had scallops for an appetizer and a very interesting entreé. I’m not sure I would recommend it. It was seared Ahi tuna and short ribs served with green apple, so it was pretty unusual. The dessert definitely made up for it. It was triple chocolate – chocolate straw candy, chocolate cake and a hot chocolate shooter—and absolutely delicious.

The plenary session on Friday morning was a “Review of Significant Developments in Common Law and State Statutory Decisions.” It was very informative, bringing all of us up to date on the most recent statutory and case decisions in labor and employment law. I also attended the “Immigration Fundamentals” program, which was pretty packed. After that it was off to lunch with Mike Green, and we ate (again for the “foodies”) at a fabulous restaurant called The Marathon Grill. I started off with a small cup of Manhattan-style clam chowder, and my lemon grass ginger marinated swordfish salad was so unusual that I thought I’d share the ingredients with you: swordfish fillets, spring greens, piquillo peppers, tomatoes, hearts of palm, mandarin oranges, red onion, basil and sesame seeds finished with a citrus soy ginger vinaigrette. It was a really delightful lunch.

That afternoon I received an e-mail from Terri with the good news that we had completed the accreditation process and we are fully accredited for the next seven years. What delightful good news to receive from the Law School while on the road. We’re really thankful to Associate Dean Kilpatrick for spearheading our accreditation process and keeping us on task so that we were able to get this accomplished so quickly.

little_italy_tan.gifFriday evening I had a chance to catch up with two of our alums, Emmanuel (’90) and Chidinma (’07) Ahia. What warm and easy companions they are. We went to Maggiano’s Restaurant, an Italian eatery around the corner from my hotel. After I updated them about the Law School, we visited about Emmanuel’s current career, how he came to America and how he discovered this country’s race issues. What was most interesting was hearing how he processed it all, coming from Nigeria. It was a fascinating conversation. Emmanuel and Chidinma are interested in starting a chapter of the alumni society in Philidelphia for our law grads, and we are working to connect them with other Arkansas alums living in the Philadelphia area.

At Maggiano’s the portions were both humongous and delicious. We all shared a spinach and artichoke dip appetizer which was giant, and Emmanuel and I had clam chowder. As the main course, Chidinma had a gnocchi entreé that was very large, Emmanuel had chicken parmesan with a side of linguine and I had lobster ravioli. All of us were amazed at the portions.

Saturday saw me awake bright and early for an academics’ and deans’ breakfast. There was another being hosted for law students, and since so few people attended both breakfasts we combined them. Those of us who were faculty members met students who are interested in practicing labor and employment law. A little later that morning was a plenary session on “Federal Enforcement of Statutory Rights” which featured a prominent panel. We got to hear from Ron Cooper, the general counsel of the EEOC; Ronald Meisburg, general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board and Jonathan L. Snare, the acting solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor. As you might imagine, it was extremely informative to actually hear from these agency administrators.

Afterwards I joined the law students track, where they were observing a litigation session entitled, “I’ll See You in Court.” All week there had been an ongoing discrimination trial. The premise of the suit was that a woman filed a sexual harassment claim against Hooligan’s Bar. According to the facts, some of the employees had drilled holes in a wall in order to look into the women’s locker room and were observing women as they dressed. The session I attended was the last of that program, but it was still fascinating because we were able to observe the jury’s deliberations. There were two sets of juries: one was was selected by the lawyers who litigated the cases in front of the Section, and the other had actually been struck by the lawyers. We were able to observe both juries and the struck jury came back with a larger verdict than the jury that had been selected by the lawyers. At the end, the moderator introduced all the students who share with us their schools and described their interests in labor and employment law. All in all it was a good session.

img_1315.jpgSaturday’s Fall Section Council lunch was held on the 33rd floor of the Loews Hotel, which boasted a beautiful view. Lunch was delicious. It was buffet-style, and afterwards we went downstairs for the Fall Section Council meeting. Let me take a moment to congratulate the planners of the program. Not only were they able to bring together 1250 labor and employment law practitioners, but they offered multiple, high-quality tracks of CLE. Congratulations to Steve Gordon, the union and employee co-chair of the program; Allen Gross, the employer co-chair and Howard Shapiro, the employer co-chair for a successful conference.

After the Council dinner, I met with one of our alums, Gary Samms (’89), and we had dinner at The Palm restaurant. I updated him on all the goings-on at the School of Law. Gary is a delightful guy. He shared his story of coming to school at the University of Arkansas and shared the fact that he feels the preparation he received here was as good as any he would have received at any law school. In addition to being a lot of fun, he’s a very successful lawyer to boot. Try Googling him—there’s tons of information. He’s done a lot of malpractice defense, along with early criminal defense work, but now he specializes in litigation. He hasn’t been back to visit in a long time, so we were able to give him an Arkansas sweatshirt because he didn’t have any Arkansas gear.

img_1328.jpgFor the “foodies” out there, the dinner at The Palms was extraordinary. We started with a shrimp cocktail (with enormous shrimp) followed by an arugula endive salad with strawberries, toasted walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette. I had an entree of three large crab cakes, and Gary had a steak. All the sides are served family style. We had au gratin potatoes and something very unusual, fried asparagus. I thought that meant it was sauteed, but it was batter dipped and fried instead. For dessert, I had the largest piece of carrot cake I had ever seen. It was fun getting to know Gary and I hope he’ll come out and visit the School of Law soon. Next time I’m in Philadelphia, I hope to get all of our alums together so that they can meet each other and we can enjoy each other’s company.

Early Sunday morning was conclusion of the Fall Section Council meeting. We ended a little early, so Chris Hexter, a union side attorney from St. Louis; Mary O’Melveny, a union attorney for Communications Workers of America and I spent the couple of hours we had before our planes/train left at a craft fair being held at the convention center around the corner from the hotel.

img_1349.jpgAfterwards, we went to lunch at the Reading Terminal Market. Wow! It is an old railroad train station that has been converted into a market, and there are tons of different restaurants serving all types of different ethnic foods. Anything you could imagine was all there under one roof. Chris and Mary both went to a deli, but being the “foodie” that I am, I scouted out all the opportunities from Indian food to sushi. Eventually I settled on a good home-cooked meal at a little soul food restaurant that served greens, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and fried chicken. They were both pretty envious once they saw my plate. After lunch, Chris Hexter graciously offered me a ride to the airport in his hybrid rental. Another whirlwind week, full of new acquaintances and old friends.