Needless to say, the alarm really seemed early when it went off at 4:00 a.m., but I was able to make it.  One of the interesting things that happened (those of you who have followed the blog for a while know that I tend to get into conversations with cab drivers) was that the cab driver wanted to talk about how concerned he was that President Obama was going to take guns away.  He talked about how that would be a terrible thing, that the criminals would still have guns, and that the President shouldn’t take guns from law abiding people.  That was his big gest about the outcome of the election.  As you might imagine (at 4:30 a.m. in the morning), that was quite a conversation, but it did make the ride to the airport go by pretty quickly.

Section Council Meeting

Section Council Meeting

The Section Council Meeting started at 9:00 a.m.  My flight arrived in Chicago much sooner than expected.  We landed at 7:30 a.m., so I was able to get to the hotel by 8:30 a.m., check into my room and grab a bit of breakfast before the Council Meeting started.  I’ve mentioned the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section Council before, but for those of you who are new to the blog, it is the governing body of the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section.  It is comprised of both voting members who are union, management, employee and/or at-large members who are neutrals.  In addition, there are a number of administrative representatives.  For example, those who work with the newsletter, the budget committee, the CLE committee, and the like.  The Council Meeting ran from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. during which time we talked about the upcoming annual CLE, and did some strategic planning for the future of the Section.  We also discussed the Mid-Winter Meetings, the need to create leadership paths (and that conversation went over into the next day) for people who want to get involved in the Section.  There was a long discussion about how to reach out to new members, and ways we could use new technologies to do so.  Among the other agenda items were reports from the Standing Committee Best Practices Task Force, the Publications Committee, the Trial Advocacy/Moot Court Competition Committee, as well as the Section Chair’s Report, Section Chair-Elect’s Report, Section Director’s Report, and Section Delegates Report.

In addition to the planning focus of the meeting, a major emphasis was a discussion of Section initiatives and new project ideas.  These were not the typical administrative committee or task force reports.  It really was a forward looking planning session.  The Section has also established a Best Practices Task Force.  That task force is charged with putting together a guide for committee leaders.  It identified the best practices from all the various committees and put the guide together.  In light of that our discussion centered around how to best communicate the best practices to the committee chairs and to make sure that information is disseminated throughout the Section.  The idea is that the best practices document is a living document which will be revised and amended as new ideas come up.  It will all be posted on the website.  The Strategic Planning Committee also developed a leadership skills training program.  The pilot program will start next fall.  The focus is on two targeted groups – standing committee chairs and others who have shown commitment, to interest in and been involved in Section activities.

Icy Chicago

Icy Chicago

 

Afterwards, we had free time until 6:00 p.m. and I went over to Macy’s to get a scarf because it was 4 degrees in Chicago!  Clearly, I had been away from my home town too long because I was freezing my butt off, so I had to go and get the proper garb to make sure I could stay warm.  (By the way, if you’re going to go to Macy’s – which used to be Marshall Field’s – then you must purchase Frango Mints, the elixir of life.)  After that, I walked back to the room and took a nap because it had been quite a week, with a very early start that morning and I knew we had a full evening to follow.

At 6:00 p.m. we had a reception with the Section’s Employment Law Trial Advocacy Competition participants in the Crystal Room on the 3rd floor of the Palmer House Hilton on Monroe Street in downtown Chicago.  The final four teams were announced and that was very exciting.  It was fun to meet the student competitors, their coaches and to visit with them.  That was followed by the Council dinner at Trattoria Restaurant, 10 North Dearborn St.  On the menu, there were two salads to choose from – Caesar Salad with Baby Red and Green Romaine, and Eggless Caesar Dressing or Arugula with Mozzarella Di Bufala, Tomato, Granny Smith Apples, Pine Nuts, Lemon, and Olive Oil.  There were five entrées to choose from – Fettuccini with Sautéed Shrimp, Garlic Grilled Peppers, Chili, and White Wine Sauce or Ravioli with Asparagus Tips and Aged Provolone, with Caramelized Onions, and Sundried Tomato Sauce or Seared Waygu Steak with Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Demi Glace or Garganelli Pasta with Sautéed Chicken, Mushrooms, Roasted Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Porcini Cream Sauce or Seared Texas Redfish with Pan Fried Tomato, Polenta, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and Saffron Aioli.  For dessert, there was Profiteroles or Traditional Tiramisu served with coffee or tea.

It was a fun dinner.  In fact, it always is and for me it reminds me that I used to be, prior to becoming dean, a lot more involved in the substantive labor and employment law issues.  I enjoy reconnecting with both my friends on the management side, but especially the union and employee side lawyers on the Council.  There’s a real deep bond between us and very warm friendship going back many, many years.  It’s always great to see all of them.  After dinner, we (believe it or not) walked back to the hotel and it was cold.  I was very happy for my earlier trip to purchase a hat and scarf so I was fine, although my feet were pretty cold.

When we got back to the hotel, a group of us gathered in the bar area for a night cap and lively conversation.  It had been quite a Saturday and time to call it an evening because the Council Meeting started the next morning again bright and early at 9:00 a.m.

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