All Times Are EDT

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

11:30–11:45 a.m.

Welcome Brunch & Convention Orientation
Grab a front-row seat and join your NELA colleagues for our 2020 Annual Convention.

11:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Roll Call Of The States & Opening Remarks
Wade B. Cowan, NELA President & Karen Maoki, Interim Executive Director

12:30–1:45 p.m.

The Impacts Of COVID-19 On Employment Law
Moderator: Christine T. Elzer
Speakers: Brian East & Rebecca G. Pontikes

Our opening plenary session will explore key employment law issues that arise in the era of COVID-19, including: disability and reasonable accommodation issues; pregnancy discrimination and accommodations; new twists on the old FMLA; the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; and stereotyping claims to look out for. Questions are highly encouraged during this interactive session.

2:00–3:15 p.m.

Proving Damages In Employment Trials
Moderator: James H. Kaster
Speakers: J. Bernard Alexander, III & Alicia K. Haynes

Proving damages is essential to litigating any successful employment case. Our panel of experts will address the most effective ways to prove economic & non-economic damages, including when & how to use experts, and how to ask judges & juries for money, both in jurisdictions where asking for a specific amount is allowed & jurisdictions where it isn’t.

3:30–4:45 p.m.


Top Ten Trial Tips For Plaintiffs Employment Lawyers
Moderator: Bruce A. Fredrickson
Speakers: Hal K. Gillespie, Toni J. Jaramilla & M. Megan O'Malley

This panel brings together NELA’s top experts to give the most important tips for a successful plaintiff employment practice. From voir dire to closing statements, join these top trial attorneys as they discuss what works and what they have learned from their losses.

Ferreting Out & Exposing Implicit Bias From Intake To Trial
Moderator/Speaker: Christopher R. Houk
Speaker: The Honorable Bernice B. Donald

Implicit bias can be an integral thread in your case—from the employment decision that led your client to seek representation, to how the judge or jury decides the case. This session will focus on how practitioners can recognize the ways in which implicit bias impacts a case, use implicit bias research to explain these concepts to judges and juries, and bring attention to the unconscious biases of an employer.

5:00-6:15 p.m.


So, You Want To Represent A Federal Employee On An EEO Claim: EEOC Practice And Procedure Done Right
Moderator: Doris J. Dabrowski
Speakers: Michelle F. Bercovici, EEOC Supervisor Administrative Judge Allyson Jozwik & Ricardo Pitts-Wiley

Attend this panel if you are thinking of expanding your practice to represent federal employees on their EEO claims or you need the latest update on the recent decisions affecting Federal sector EEO claims. Seasoned practitioners and an EEOC judge will explain the practice and procedures you need to know to represent federal employee competently and aggressively at all stages of EEO claims, and how to evaluate a possible jump to federal court.

Moderator: M. Nieves Bolanõs
Speaker: Daniel S. Stromberg & Ariana J. Tadler

E-discovery continues to be a vital and emerging area in the practice of employment law. This introductory level panel will provide attendees with the technical vocabulary & knowledge that will help you recognize what you need to ask for, and how to ask for it.

6:15-7:00 p.m.

NELA’s 35th Anniversary Awards Ceremony & Happy Hour
You are invited to join the entire NELA family as we begin our celebration of NELA’s 35th Anniversary. Pour yourself a NELA signature cocktail or your beverage of choice and raise a glass to NELA members Alice W. Ballard (PA) and Richard T. Seymour (DC) who we are honoring for their distinguished service to the NELA community. We also will take a moment to thank retiring Board members John F. Beasley, Charlotte Fishman, and Gregory A. Rich and recognize our dedicated staff.

7:00-7:30 p.m.

The NELA Networking Exchange
Moderators: Lauren A. Khouri & Deborah K. Marcuse
This round robin-style networking event will give you the opportunity to talk to other Convention attendees in small groups to maximize your networking connections.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Wellness Brunch
Join NELA Board Member Dara Smith, CAALA's Wellness Committee Member Scott Tillett, NELA Program Manager Ashley Westby, and your peers as we discuss how to stay mentally healthy during this trying time, both as individuals and workers’ rights advocates. This candid discussion will cover the statistics surrounding mental health and substance use among lawyers, resources for staying mentally healthy, and how to break the stigma and discuss these topics in a meaningful way in our community.

12:00–12:45 p.m.

Keynote Address By The Honorable Carlton W. Reeves
Judge Reeves will be introduced by NELA Member Geraldine Sumter.

1:00-2:15 p.m.

Winning Discovery Strategies
Moderator/Speaker: David E. Schlesinger
Speakers: Diane S. King, The Honorable Robert A. Richardson & Chauniqua D. Young

A lively discussion about how lawyers can use discovery to their advantage. The discussion will tackle such topics as proportionality, how best to propound discovery with specificity, how to use Rule 34 to require parties to state objections with particularity and identify what withheld documents, strategies to get discovery moving expeditiously, and the use of ESI.

2:30–3:45 p.m.


How To Do Good Work & Do Well
Moderator: Joseph D. Garrison
Speakers: Nicole Farber & David L. Lee

Being a plaintiffs’ employment lawyer can be a difficult path, with the odds rarely in your favor. This session will focus on how to be personally fulfilled & healthy as an advocate, while also managing & marketing your law practice in a successful way.

Discovery In Wage & Hour Cases
Moderator: Rachel Geman
Speakers: Summer H. Murshid & Rachhana T. Srey

This panel will have an interactive discussion about frequent areas where disputes tend to arise and/or where early discovery is key for later success: (a) discovery about arbitration formation in connection with a motion to compel; (b) representative discovery (how do you make a discovery plan and how to you field employers' attempts to cherry pick or make representative mean "all"); (c) common discovery disputes in wage and hour cases; and (d) discovery for purposes of calculating damages including what discovery you need to prove willfulness.

4:00–5:15 p.m.


Whistleblower Claims 101
Moderator/Speaker: Clayton E. Wire
Speakers: Ann Lugbill & Jordan A. Thomas

Whistleblower claims are on the rise and very much in the public eye. This introductory session will cover the broad range of complex issues surrounding whistleblower litigation. From issue spotting and protected activity to the basics of qui tam and bounty statutes, this panel will help guide you through whistleblower claims on both a federal and state level.

Focus Groups: Why You Need Them & How To Do Them On A Budget
Moderator/Speaker: Brian P. Sanford
Speakers: Amanda A. Farahany & David G. Webbert

This session will discuss why you should use focus groups and mocks, how to set them up, ways to conduct the focus group/mock, and what to do with the information once you get it. You will leave this session with the tools you need to set up your own focus group or mock.

5:15-6:30 p.m.


The Ethics Of Interviewing Defendant’s Employees & Candor To The Court
Moderator: Janet E. Wise
Speakers: The Honorable Christopher R. Cooper & Ellen J. Messing

Can the defense prevent plaintiffs' lawyers from speaking with witnesses just because the witnesses are employed by the employer? Does it matter how high-level the witness is or what role they play in the case? Can we, or defense lawyers, withhold adverse facts or authority from our opponents or the court, and if not, when must we disclose? Join members of the NELA Ethics & Sanctions Committee for a lively discussion with real-life examples about how to incorporate Rules of Professional Responsibility 4.2 and 3.3 into the litigation of your clients' cases.

Unique Issues Facing Immigrant Workers
Moderator: Julia Solorzano
Speakers: Alia Al-Khatib, Liz M. Chacko, Arash Jahanian

Immigrant workers face unique challenges in enforcing their rights in the workplace. This session will address hurdles that may come up in litigating cases on behalf of immigrant workers, particularly those in low-wage industries. Learn what potential claims are available to these workers, including race and national origin discrimination and retaliation based on immigration enforcement. It will also address issues that come up in discovery, such as disclosure of immigration status—and seeking a protective order on behalf of clients—filing under a pseudonym, and handling litigation while a client has a pending immigration application. Immigration enforcement actions which target immigrant workers, like workplace raids and I-9 audits, will also be discussed.

6:30–7:30 p.m.

NELA’s 35th Anniversary Talent Show + Karaoke
Emcee: Rachhana T. Srey
To celebrate NELA’s special birthday, we are bringing back this NELA favorite—Zoom style! Come prepared with a song and your own music. To guarantee a spot to perform, advance registration is highly encouraged.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Before 12:00 p.m.

Tobias 5K At Home
Participants can join the NELA2020 Club on Strava, and upload their 5K time!

10:00–11:00 a.m.

Yoga For Stressed Out Attorneys
Join instructor Melissa Kaufmann Lebsack for an invigorating and accessible yoga class that will incorporate floor work, chair moves you can do from your desk, and mindfulness exercises that will improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.

11:00 a.m–12:00 p.m.

Brunch With The Institute
Grab your breakfast or coffee and join our Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow, Christy England, and members of The Institute Board to learn about the vital work of The Institute.

12:00–1:15 p.m.


Making The Most Of Arbitration
Moderator: Gary E. Phelan
Speakers: Sasha A. Carbone (AAA), Matthew C. Helland & Shannon Liss-Riordan

A spate of recent federal and state court decisions have created this world in which it is now common practice to deprive workers of their right to a jury trial, even for egregious harassment and discrimination claims. But all is not lost. We will have a pragmatic discussion about ways to defeat forced arbitration clauses and offer strategies for success in arbitration, focusing in particular on the unique considerations present in harassment and discrimination cases.

When To Use Experts In Employment Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Paige Fiedler
Speakers: Bruce C. Fox & Dwight Steward

We're all familiar with the use of experts in criminal cases...but what about employment cases? Join our panel of experts as they discuss how to determine if an expert is right for your case, how to work with expert witnesses, and even how to use your own client as an expert.

1:30–2:45 p.m.


Employee Benefits For Plaintiffs' Employment Lawyers
Moderator/Speaker: Denise M. Clark
Speakers: Tybe A. Brett & Margo Hasselman Greenough

This session will equip plaintiffs' employment lawyers both new and seasoned with the information they need to identify, issue-spot, and analyze problems related to employee benefits. Topics to be covered include (a) what kinds of benefits fall under which laws, and how to tell which you are looking at; (b) important things to know about claims for benefits under ERISA, including steps to take and scope of remedies; (c) important things to know about plan administrators’ fiduciary duties, the most common ways they breach those duties, and scope of remedies for those breaches.

Cutting Edge Issues In Representing LGBTQ+ Workers
Moderator: Katie R. Eyer
Speakers: Joshua R. Goodbaum, Maureen T. Holland & Neelima Vanguri

LGBTQ workers are often faced with harassment in the workplace, discrimination in hiring, firing or promotion, and inadequate healthcare coverage from employers. With a minority of states providing non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ workers, attorneys often use cutting edge legal interpretations and arguments to represent these clients. Join our panel of experts as they discuss the current patchwork framework surrounding protections for LGBTQ workers, and how the Supreme Court decision in the Bostock, Zarda, and Harris cases will change the landscape.

3:00–4:15 p.m.


Trial Strategies For Disability Cases
Moderator: Michal B. Shinnar
Speaker: Carolyn Koch & Jeffrey Neil Young

Come hear from seasoned attorneys about successfully litigating an employment disability discrimination case in front of a jury. This panel will include strategies for trial, including presenting and framing your case, examining witnesses, addressing common biases about individuals with disabilities in the workplace, selecting jurors, jury instructions, maximizing damages, use of supporting witnesses and experts, opening and closing statements, preparing your plaintiff for testimony and other aspects of trial.

The Nuts & Bolts Of Litigating Sexual Harassment & Assault Cases
Moderator: Nina T. Pirrotti
Speakers: Lynne Bernabei, Kalpana Kotagal & Marc J. Siegel

This panel of experienced litigators will explore the nuts & bolts of litigating sexual harassment and sexual assault cases in the #MeToo era. The topics will include discussion of arbitration as opposed to court; proceeding under a pseudonym; nondisclosure agreements; how to handle sensitive emotional distress issues; how to limit discovery of medical evidence; state laws that provide greater coverage; problems of protecting contractors or undocumented workers; gathering support from victims’ rights and women’s groups; and mediation of sexual harassment cases.

4:30–6:00 p.m.

The Year In Review: Significant Developments In Employment Law
Moderator: Ashley O. Westby
Speakers: Professor Eric Schnapper & Richard T. Seymour

The 2020 Virtual Convention will close with Professor Schnapper and Mr. Seymour discussing the employment cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2019–2020 term, significant legislative and state law developments, as well as emerging issues in plaintiffs’ employment law.

Program subject to change without notice.