McDermott Launches Employment Practice Group

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By Gayle Cinquegrani

International law firm McDermott Will & Emery is launching an employment law practice group with the addition of 10 new partners and one counsel from DLA Piper. The new group will focus on high-stakes employment litigation and protection of clients’ brand reputation, the firm announced April 3.

Michael Sheehan, who for years chaired the U.S. employment group at DLA Piper, will lead McDermott’s newly formed employment practice from the firm’s headquarters in Chicago. Joining him will be senior partner Marilyn Pearson, partner Rachel Cowen, and counsel Kevin Connelly. Pearson and Connelly are labor lawyers, and Cowen specializes in pay equity and systemic discrimination claims.

For its part, DLA Piper in February expanded the employment law practice in its Dallas office, pulling in three attorneys from Houston firm Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP.

The additions come amid the continued wave of the #MeToo. Employment lawyers have reported an increase in demand for their services to help their clients with preventative activities and training.

Wage and Hour litigation has also become a more high stakes game involving potentially large classes of workers and correspondingly large settlements, including a $27 million figure Lyft and drivers recently told a federal judge is proceeding on schedule, as well as a $100 million Uber settlement that a judge rejected as too small.

“With this influx of new partners—adding geography, subject matter and sector expertise and overall depth to the existing talent—McDermott now can offer its clients a skilled and broad employment offering,” Sheehan told Bloomberg Law in an April 3 e-mail.

Sheehan said the new McDermott employment practice group will house all the firm’s employment practitioners, including existing partners such as Kristin Michaels in Chicago and Kerry Scanlon in Washington, in a stand-alone practice group rather than a subgroup of another practice.

Strong West Coast Presence

The new employment practice also will have a strong West Coast presence with the arrival of two class action litigators, partners Ron Holland in San Francisco and Ellen Bronchetti in San Diego. Partners David Durham, Pankit Doshi, and Christopher Foster will join Holland in San Francisco.

In Southern California, McDermott’s employment capabilities will increase with the arrival of partners Maria Rodriguez and Michelle Strowhiro in Los Angeles. Rodriguez headed the western regional employment group at DLA Piper.

“This group is a meaningful addition to McDermott,” the firm’s chairman, Ira Coleman, said in the statement. “Michael and his team will not only extend our employment offerings but also bolster our West Coast presence.”

McDermott Will & Emery has a diversified business practice and more than 1,000 lawyers worldwide.

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