Career Opportunities in Labor and Employment Law


On March 10, 2005, the Committee on Law Student Perspectives sponsored a career panel discussion at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, which included a dynamic group of labor and employment law practitioners.

Moderator Amy B. Regan, Senior Counsel, Proskauer Rose LLP, introduced panelists: Audrey Eveillard, Field Attorney, National Labor Relations Board (Region 2); Hanan B. Kolko, Director, Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.; Julie B. Krasnogor, Partner, Krasnogor & Krasnogor LLP; Omar T. Mohammedi, Commissioner, New York City Commission on Human Rights, Member, The Law Firm of Omar T. Mohammedi, President, New York Area Muslim Bar Association; and Laurie N. Robinson, Assistant General Counsel, CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

In their introductory remarks, the panelists touched upon their daily responsibilities which included everything from client consultations; investigating claims; taking depositions; participating in arbitrations, negotiations, and settlement discussions; editing briefs; preparing for hearings and litigation; and even being interviewed by the media. Yet they all agreed that every day is exciting and different from the rest.

All the practitioners followed distinct paths on their road to success, and offered a range of practical insight. Kolko, who represents labor unions, said he learned the day-to-day value of labor unions as a teenager working in his family business. He stressed the importance of being on the “radar screen” of employers, even if there were initially no available openings in a specific area. Regan explained that having flexibility is key, and that every opportunity could lead to others, even if those opportunities are not exactly what one had in mind at the start of the job search.

Kolko also emphasized the advantages of being geographically flexible, especially early in one’s career. In fact, he obtained his big break while dining one day, when a woman who overheard his conversation asked him, “What do you think about working in Cleveland, Ohio?” He added that law students often limited their job potential by considering only their surrounding areas. Robinson agreed that moving up sometimes meant moving away, where there may be many exciting opportunities in fields not available in your locality.

Eveillard, who began her career at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, said she would always value the experience she gained in public speaking. The presentation skills she acquired while appearing before judges gave her the confidence she needed to land a job with the National Labor Relations Board. Regan added that law students should force themselves to participate in any public speaking opportunities offered at school, as employers always look for that type of confidence in prospective employees.

Mohammedi spoke of the challenges he faced as an immigrant trying to find his place in the field of law. He successfully overcame those challenges, and ultimately Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him a Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Mohammedi explained that the tumultuous post September 11 climate caused a tremendous increase in employment discrimination litigation. He encouraged law students to become active in their communities, join advocacy organizations, and participate in local efforts to pass legislation to protect the rights of employees. He added that volunteer work was often a valuable link into one’s area of interest.

In terms of developing substantive knowledge, Kolko encouraged students to learn as much as they could about federal practice, in addition to labor and employment related courses in law school. He said that this would be an advantage for those interested in practicing labor law in the private sector. Ms. Robinson advised law students and lawyers alike to read about developments within the field, and to stay up to date on the growing interaction of labor and employment law with other practice areas. Krasnogor gave an example of this in her discussion of the exciting interplay between immigration and employment law, which ranged from working closely with labor and employment administrative agencies to obtaining visas for athletes and religious workers. She emphasized that the possibilities in this field were endless, and that was why it was so important to be aware of the latest legal trends.

Each panelist had a unique story to tell, yet they all had one thing in common: networking played an important role in their success. Students may see networking as a daunting task, and wonder what their chances are of being in the right place, at the right time as the panelists described. However, successful networking is more than just attending a few receptions and collecting business cards. It requires patience, follow-up, and a process of strategically positioning oneself. The panelists advised students to look beyond the short-term benefits of networking and focus instead on cultivating genuine relationships through which people would remember you when the right opportunity came along.

1. Nadeen Al-Jijakli, Brooklyn Law School , 2005, is a student member of the Committee on Law Student Perspectives.

Nadeen Al-Jijakli 1