|After I became a lawyer, I got a fortune cookie with a fortune that read “You would make a good lawyer.” As fortune would have it, I was lucky to have already chosen to be an attorney – a job that combines my love of reading, writing, advocacy, and my desire to help others and “do justice.” When I decided as a college student at Duke University to go on to law school, it was a leap of faith. I had no lawyers in my family and no lawyer friends, but I had taken some classes over the years involving mock lawyering, first amendment law, and gender issues that sparked my interest in the law. After graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School, I practiced for a few years with a firm that did plaintiffs’ side employment law. I then moved to Gray, Plant, Mooty, where I have focused my practice on management-side employment law. As a management-side lawyer, I find my past experience as a plaintiff-side lawyer gives me a unique and invaluable perspective. As a management-side lawyer, I also get to do “justice” every day by advising and training employers to comply with the law in the first place and by helping them defend against legal claims when they do arise. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and my two wonderful daughters, reading, exercising, digging in my flower beds (during the few summer months we have in Minnesota), and occasionally taking lessons to learn something new (ice skating and knitting being my most recent endeavors).|
Golfing, boating and beaches, these are all things that would describe any given week in my life had I continued on my path to be an estate planning attorney in Florida. That was the plan, at least, when I was in graduate accounting school. As a CPA, I thought another three years in school would allow me to provide more services to clients as an attorney, so I decided to go to law school for that single purpose.|
But along the way I discovered ERISA, the federal law that governs employee benefits. I was immediately intrigued by its unique combination of tax law, accounting, and a few other subjects that are not very interesting to most people. I jumped into ERISA and never turned back.
While researching the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA is both challenging and rewarding, the aspect of my practice that I enjoy the most is helping employers design and maintain their benefit plans in a way that works best for them and their employees.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Marie and our infant daughter, Madeleine.
I became a lawyer because as a kid, I negotiated everything – bedtime, what I ate, the color of my socks, everything. I became very creative with my negotiating tactics and constantly found different ways to do or get something I wanted within the rules my parents set. That’s not so different than being a lawyer. There are lots of rules, and our clients have objectives to meet. While those rules and objectives rarely completely conflict, we need to be creative to find practical ways to satisfy both when questions come up.|
What I love most about employment and labor law is that it affects everybody. Almost everyone works. Most of the time, it turns out just fine. But, when it doesn’t, it can get really bad really fast. I love helping people find the best solution whether it means making small adjustments to a policy or fighting to the death in litigation.
In the middle of my career, I leapt at the opportunity to live overseas and become one of the people I advised – an HR professional! Spending three years overseas was amazing. I learned a lot about working with many, many cultures and just how hard it is to be in the human resources trenches. The experience gave me a better understanding of how the right solution is usually not the easiest.
It’s tough out there! But we’re here to help!
I didn’t debate in high school, and I didn’t want to be a lawyer growing up. I wanted to be a Marine. But one closed door often leads to other good things, and I’m thankful to have found a profession that includes occasional skirmishing. More rewarding, however, is to work with clients to prevent problems before they grow into disputes. |
Prior to law school I worked in policy and politics in Washington, DC, and still enjoy armchair policy-making. I am married to a wonderful woman and am grateful for our three tremendous children. Despite my personal misgivings about the Twitter and Facebook world we now work in, if you can’t beat it, join it. So here I am, writing for a modern workplace blog.
As I child, I loved to read and always drew my inspiration from books. Of course, initially this meant that I wanted to be an explorer or a princess, but later, as I matured, it meant that I wanted to be Atticus Finch. As silly as it sounds, after reading To Kill a Mockingbird in 5th grade, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I resisted this realization at first, doing environmental and political internships and serving in AmeriCorps*VISTA. However, in each of these pursuits, I became aware that something was missing and that law school would help match my passions with my skills. I finally decided to attend law school, and I am so glad that I did. After graduating from Macalester College, I am currently a law student at the University of Iowa College of Law and a summer associate at Gray Plant Mooty.
When not studying or working, you may find me hiking, camping, or playing tennis. I still enjoy reading, as well as cooking and spending time with my family.
My pastor dad and teacher mom have always told me that “People are the best investment.” My experience as a teacher, youth leader, mentor and friend has proved this adage to be true and, like my parents, I seek to live this out in my chosen profession as well my personal life. Whether I’m drafting a vacation policy or helping an employer navigate a coming union election, my work as an employment and labor law attorney is gratifying because it touches the day-to-day lives of real people. I hope to contribute to my clients’ business success by helping employers craft conditions in which the people who drive their businesses can be successful.|
Prior to attending law school, I worked for a leadership development company where I was able to assist employers across the globe utilize research-based tools for talent management and employee development. Prior to that, I taught English to children and adults in Ostrava, Czech Republic. My work history also includes part-time gigs as a waitress, barista, retail worker, test prep instructor, and research assistant, among others.
I’m a Texas girl happily married to a Minnesota man. I’m a recent graduate of the the University of St. Thomas School of Law and a not-so-recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma. Taking an ecumenical approach to sports fandom, I cheer for the Denver Broncos and the Minnestoa Twins in addition to my beloved Sooners.
When I was growing up, I never knew what I wanted to be. I loved books, so I just stayed in school for a long, long time. After accumulating a few degrees in French, I spent several years following faculty jobs and teaching French from Georgia to Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. I liked teaching, but after a few moves I was ready to settle down and explore a long-held interest in the law. My mother was vindicated—she always knew that’s what I should do. |
I went to law school, clerked for a Minnesota Supreme Court justice, and started practicing in employee benefits. Probably not exactly what my mother had in mind, but it suits me to a tee. I’ve never looked back. I love helping employers work through benefits and compensation issues, from the most basic to the really complicated, and everything in between.
When I’m not doing that, I still like travelling to France, but mostly I stay busy right here in Minnesota with a son who wants to be a musician, a daughter who wants to be an actress, and a husband who, like me, enjoys every day seeing what they’ll do next.
Sometime during my middle school years John Grisham sparked my first interest in the field of law. But realizing career choices should be based on more than the New York Times Best Seller List, I decided to take a different focus during my undergrad education at Bethel University. I majored in journalism, took an interest in marketing, and finally landed a job as a recruiter after college. But it didn’t take long before I once again felt that tug toward the law. This time I did my homework, researching the “real career.” The more I learned, the more I knew it was the path for me.|
But I changed more than my career with this decision. My husband and I decided that law school presented the perfect opportunity for a three-year adventure. So we packed up our things and drove them across the country to arguably the best city in which to study law – Washington, DC. I look back over the years of late nights in the library, guest lectures from Supreme Court justices and weekend trips to NYC, and I definitely don’t regret my decision. However, we are both born-and-raised Minnesotans, so after graduation we made the journey home to settle down with family, friends and cold winters.
When I am not blogging on legal issues, I spend my time adoring my baby boy, talking about the Constitution with my history-teacher husband (major geeks!), reading, walking, tutoring English language learners, mentoring middle school girls, and being involved at my church.
|Dorrie Larison |
Yes, it’s true, I was a debater in high school. Anyone who was debater in high school will tell you that it sets you on a path. Probably a path you cannot really control. You are bound to always think about the contrary argument, you always organize your thoughts in a particular way, and you always take steps to analyze things from different viewpoints. Shortly after high school another ex-debater who was older than me told me: “Don’t worry you’ll get over it – someday you will think differently.” Well, I’m here to say that he was wrong.
I tried to change my ways; however, the reality is I like to think like a debater. What better profession for someone who thinks like a debater than a lawyer? So, following college, after six years of other jobs, including a two year stint as a paralegal, I decided that being a lawyer was something I wanted to do. After twenty plus years of lawyering I have never regretted that decision. I love the challenges. I love the discussions. I love working with my clients to solve problems. If I wasn’t a lawyer what would I be? Who knows? Maybe a job in government? Or, maybe even a blogger.
|Dean LeDoux |
Who knew that living a cliché could end up being so enjoyable and rewarding? As far back as the start of junior high school (so far back it was not yet known as “middle school”), I was for some reason doggedly determined to become a lawyer – which in my mind always meant a trial lawyer. By that early time, it had already become painfully apparent that I was not likely to have the physical stature required to be a professional athlete, or even a firefighter. I was, however, blessed with a near super-human mouth, capable of producing an almost constant stream of words, and with a quick tongue (which was not always fully appreciated by my junior high teachers or parents). Those skills, along with an insatiable love for the sound of my own voice, and a freakishly early-developed interest in politics, naturally caused me to pick the law as my profession long before I needed to pick out my first razor. I was undeterred by the fact that I would need to first become the initial member of my family to ever attend college, that I didn’t know any actual lawyers, or that I didn’t have any meaningful grasp on what it might actually mean to be a lawyer. What I lacked in objective reasoning, I more than made up for in stubborn single-mindedness. Decades later, when I would encounter similarly myopic, uninformed and star-struck law students, through my involvement in recruiting new lawyers, I would often shake my head and attempt to suppress laughter at the absurdity of my less-than-thoughtful career decision-making process.
Sometimes, however, everything works perfectly according to plan – no matter how crazy that plan may be. I’ve been living the dream of being a trial lawyer for 25 years, with a wide range of experience and interests, including a focus on employment litigation for about a decade. When not living the dream, or laughing at the ridiculousness of my pursuit of that dream, I like to spend my time playing tennis, following our Twins (a both joyous and sometimes rather frustrating pursuit), listening to my daughter’s glorious singing voice, and spending time with my wonderful family. My family, including my loving wife and rapidly growing daughter and son, tolerates having a habitual litigator as a father and spouse, although they have on occasion confessed weariness at being cross-examined (always done in a gentle and caring way, of course).
|Carl Crosby Lehmann |
Lifeguard, fast-food cook, door-to-door light bulb sales, trash collector, swimming pool maintenance, camp counselor -- name the job and there’s a good chance I’ve done it. I guess it’s only natural then that I’d end up in a career focusing on jobs. Although many of my past work experiences were short-lived, I’ve been able to stick with this one for over 16 years because I love working with employers in all types of businesses and doing something new every day. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wife and three kids, running marathons, and decompressing at the cabin.
| Mark Mathison |
Managing a staff of 150 or so employees in a fast-paced, high turnover foodservice environment was how I mostly spent my first career. After law school I chose to practice employment and labor law because I thought I could use insights from my real-world management experience in advising and advocating for employers on workplace issues. Those insights make me especially sensitive to how managers and employees will work together when a dispute or a matter I am advising on is over and their work life goes on. That concern guides my work with clients every day. A major influence from my first career was running a union election campaign to persuade employees they would be better off without a union. In that process I became intrigued by the work of the labor lawyers I had interfaced with, which drove my choice to make traditional labor law a major focus of my practice when I started here at Gray Plant. I have three terrific children, one a recent college grad, one who will graduate soon, and an eleven year old boy who is about to recycle his parents into the world of adolescence. With my wife Cheryl, who is a Lutheran pastor, I love to bicycle and spend free time at home. We go to the theater fairly often, where I sometimes revisit my earlier days acting on local stages.
| Kathryn Nash |
I knew after winning my first mock trial in eighth grade that I wanted to be a lawyer. After graduating from Bethel University, I attended the University of Minnesota Law School and then joined Gray, Plant, Mooty. What I love most about my work is having the opportunity to partner with my clients and assist them in making decisions that are best for their businesses. Whether we’re strategizing about ways to avoid legal issues or navigating through legal claims that they weren’t able to avoid, I try to approach things as a member of their team. As is also the case for most folks in the HR profession, being an employment lawyer means that each day is unpredictable. You never know what client might call and in what mess they might be finding themselves. Never a dull moment. I love it!
My cool, calm demeanor has caused colleagues to rib me about being kind of “scary.” Hey, just because I’ve made a few plaintiffs cry while taking their deposition is no reason to call me scary. I try to take a practical, no nonsense approach to how I advise clients and how I approach the cases that I handle. I’m not just pro-business because my clients are businesses, I’m pro-business to the core.
A quick look around my office would tell you quite a bit about me. There are no less than a dozen pictures of my adorable boys (3 years old and 3 months old), pictures of my high school sweetheart/husband, a few panoramic pictures of the Na Pali coast on Kauai, a picture from George W. Bush’s first inauguration, and a parade of elephant figurines. That’s right, not shy about the politics. During my time away from the office, I enjoy spending time with my family, baking (cupcakes are my latest craze), traveling, watching the Vikings (I know, a glutton for punishment) and doing triathlons (just the sprint distances, I’m not completely crazy).
| Casey Nolan|
As a child of two attorneys and the grandchild of a judge, some may have seen it as a foregone conclusion that I too would go on to practice law. I, on the other hand, was determined to find my own destiny and so it was teaching, rather than lawyering, that became my first career. After three years teaching teenagers with severe emotional and behavioral disorders, however, law school began to look decidedly more desirable. So, here I am today, an attorney practicing in the areas of employment, immigration and higher education law, and I couldn’t be happier. I have the good fortune of working with wonderful clients and advising them on matters ranging from medical leaves and discrimination in the workplace to FLSA exemption issues to I-9 compliance and obtaining temporary and permanent employment authorization for foreign workers.
I like people.
My interest in the law started as a high-school English and English Language Learner teacher, trying to counsel my students on the many issues kids in a Texas border town face. When I started law school at the University of Minnesota, I quickly realized that law was both fascinating and fulfilling. My legal studies only further deepened the desire to advocate and represent people which had begun in a classroom. I have loved law ever since I learned it is the art of managing relationships, of helping people navigate conflict.
Employment law is such a great practice area because everyone encounters it throughout their lives. Having worked as a waiter, summer farmhand, factory worker, teacher, high-school soccer referee, coach, and camp counselor in Maine, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, and Minnesota, I know firsthand the importance of the employer-employee relationship. From employee handbooks and employment agreements to union negotiations and employment-based immigration, I love employment and labor law because I get to counsel and collaborate with people all day.
When I’m not at Gray Plant Mooty, I enjoy long-distance running, gardening, backpacking, home-brewing, and raising chickens with my wife Katie.