Labor and Employment Law Section

employment contractWelcome to the Washington State Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section, one of the larger sections of the state Bar with more than 1000 members. The Section includes members who practice many different aspects of labor and employment law, including lawyers representing private- and public-sector employers, unions, management, and individual employees as well as law professors, arbitrators, and other neutrals. Section members practice throughout the state. Lawyers interested in joining the Section can read additional information.

SAVE the DATE:  Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Avoiding Ethics Pitfalls in Labor and Employment Arbitration
Presented by the Labor and Employment Law Section of the WSBA

One-hour ethics mini-CLE (1 WA ethics credit pending)
Location: Washington Athletic Club, 1325 Sixth Ave., Seattle
Registration: 4 p.m.
Program: 4:30-5:30 p.m. 
Networking reception for advocates and lawyer-arbitrators: 5:30-7 p.m.

The Section is delighted to present a “don’t miss” mini-CLE specifically addressing ethics issues in labor and employment arbitration. This unique program is for both advocates and lawyer-arbitrators. (Many regional labor arbitrators are attending a National Academy of Arbitrators session at the WAC just preceding the CLE and are invited to join the CLE and reception). 

The mini-CLE speaker will be noted legal ethics expert prof. John Strait of Seattle University School of Law. Strait will lead an interactive presentation focused on labor and employment arbitration and suggest how to avoid the most common ethics pitfalls.

Join your colleagues for this informative and engaging discussion, and enjoy socializing at the reception to follow. No charge for the CLE (1 ethics credit. pending) or  the reception, but space is limited. Preregistration is required for the CLE, reception, or both. Look for the registration link this Web page soon. Check back here or watch for an email from the section about the March 9 events.

Section 2015 CLE:   Another Record-Breaking Success

On Nov. 20, 2015, the Labor & Employment Law Section held its annual day-long CLE at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle (and by webcast).  The event was incredibly successful, with rave reviews from attendees and a total of 240 registrations — a substantial increase in attendance from the previous year’s then-new record of 210 registrations.  This continues the Section’s multiple-year streak of record-breaking attendance.  We also had an increase in the number of attendees participating via Webcast, showing that the Section’s high-quality CLE is being made accessible to attorneys across the state.

During the day-long event, attendees enjoyed interactive and highly-engaging presentations on topics ranging from the year’s legal developments in state and federal law, to social media and tech in the workplace—as well as an encore discussion of the Affordable Care Act by nationally-renowned speaker Bill Sokol.

The Section also hosted a networking lunch during the CLE.  Besides mingling with fellow labor and employment lawyers, the lunch showcased one special tradition of our Section which helps budding labor and employment lawyers get invaluable experience.  Each year, the Section reaches out to each of our in-state law schools to grant summer internship stipends to students with an interest in employment law. The three grants awarded go to law students for summer work at positions that might not typically be paid, such as those with government agencies or public interest work.

The Executive Committee thanks all of our phenomenal presenters, moderators, attendees, and WSBA and Convention Center staff, for helping make this event such a resounding success. And we look forward to another excellent CLE in November of 2016. Be sure to watch the website and the list-serve for specific SAVE THE DATE information as we get closer to November. 

Election Results and 2016 Executive Committee Members

The WSBA Labor & Employment Law Section is one of the largest and fastest-growing sections of the Bar. The Executive Committee meets monthly to plan and coordinate the activities of the Section. In accordance with the Section’s bylaws, the Executive Committee is composed of 13 members. Four practice primarily as defense counsel in the private sector; two serve as counsel in the public sector; one is a neutral; three practice primarily as plaintiff's counsel in the private sector; and three serve as counsel for labor unions.  We also have a Young Lawyers Division liaison who practices labor or employment law. We strive for diversity in every way, including representation from across the state.  

The Section recently elected three new members for a public sector seat, a plaintiff’s counsel seat and a union counsel seat – those seats being vacated by Marie Gallagher, Alex Higgins, and Margaret Cary. Many thanks to Marie, Alex, and Margaret, for their years of dedication and hard work on behalf of all Section members.

There was a very strong group of candidates for the open seats.  The newly-elected Executive Committee members, by sector, are as follows:

Public Sector: Jamal Whitehead.  Jamal is an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington.  He represents the United States and its agencies in a wide array of civil lawsuits, with his primary focus being in employment law disputes.

Labor Union:  Brad Medlin. Brad is an attorney at Robblee Detwiller & Black. He represents labor unions, individual workers, and laborers in labor arbitrations, as well as in state and federal court.

Plaintiff:  Jillian Cutler is an attorney at Frank Freed Subit & Thomas. Her practice focuses on representing employees in discrimination, retaliation, and disability rights cases. She also represents public sector unions in labor matters.

The Executive Committee also selected its Young Lawyer Liaison from an incredibly skilled, diverse, and talented batch of applicants. Emily Arneson is an attorney at the Spokane firm of Witherspoon Kelley. Her litigation practice focuses on employment law, where she counsels both private and public employers, in both unionized and non-unionized work forces.

Finally, we are very pleased to welcome our new Board of Governors Liaison, Angela Hayes. Angie is a member of the Section, who practices labor and employment law in-house with Associated Industries in Spokane.

2016 Executive Committee and Liaisons

Chair: Leslie Hagin (plaintiff counsel)

Treasurer: William M. Symmes (defense counsel)

Secretary: Laura Ewan (union counsel)

Other Members: Keller W. Allen (defense counsel); Jillian Cutler (plaintiff counsel); Brad Medlin (union counsel); Erica Shelley Nelson (union counsel); Grace O’Connor (public sector counsel); Katie Rosen (defense counsel); James Shaker (defense counsel); Shelly Shapiro (neutral); Victoria Vreeland (plaintiff counsel); Jamal Whitehead (public sector counsel)

Board of Governors Liaison: Angela Hayes (in-house counsel, associated industries)

Young Lawyer Liaison: Emily Arneson (defense counsel)

Resources for Members
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Contact the Section

Section members: To join the Section list serve and for general questions, please send your email address and Bar number to For more information and to get involved with the Section, please contact the Section chair, Leslie Hagin.

Section Administration

Bylaws, Annual Report, and Executive Committee


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