Three Labor & Employment Partners Join Thelen

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<p><strong>Washington &mdash; Nov. 30</strong><br />Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP announced that three new partners have joined the firm&rsquo;s national labor and employment (L&E) practice in Washington, D.C.<br /><br />This team of highly respected L&E attorneys joins Thelen from Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C. The group includes partners Edmund Cooke Jr., the former head of the corporate diversity and risk management practice at Mintz Levin, Darlene Smith and O&rsquo;Kelly E. McWilliams III.<br /><br />Levin, Smith and McWilliams bring years of experience, having represented Fortune 500 clients in virtually every aspect of labor and employment law, including defense of class actions and single plaintiff employment suits, OFCCP and DOL audits, traditional labor matters, wage and hour litigation, and advice and counsel.<br /><br />The group has also distinguished itself as the go-to team for corporate diversity and risk management counseling, a specialty niche major corporations are clamoring for as they strive to achieve EEO best practices and avoid potential liability. Their wealth of talent and unique expertise in diversity risk management and counseling includes the design and implementation of employment audits and compliance, crisis communications and management, corporate counseling and diversity supplier programs. Considered one of the elite experts in the field, Edmund Cooke Jr., for example, served by court appointment on the oversight task force assigned to monitor Coca-Cola Inc.&rsquo;s compliance with the terms of a $192.5 million race discrimination class action settlement.<br /><br />Cooke said he was attracted to Thelen because of the firm&rsquo;s nationally recognized L&E practice and national platform. &ldquo;Thelen has one of the top labor and employment groups in the country, which makes it a perfect fit for cross-selling the services this group specializes in and provides,&rdquo; Cooke said. &ldquo;The partners we met with immediately understood the value of corporate diversity and risk management counseling as a way to enhance and grow the overall practice.&rdquo;<br /><br />Linda Husar, chair of Thelen&rsquo;s labor and employment practice, said having an attorney of Cooke&rsquo;s caliber leading the practice in a key market like Washington, D.C., would add immediate cachet to the practice as a whole. &ldquo;Ed, Darlene and O&rsquo;Kelly are extremely impressive labor and employment attorneys with experience covering all aspects of the field,&rdquo; Husar said. &ldquo;But what distinguishes them from other employment lawyers is their unsurpassed expertise and experience in providing sophisticated diversity risk-management and counseling services. No one else does what they do at the level at which they do it.&rdquo;<br /><br />Andrew Ness, managing partner of Thelen&rsquo;s Washington, D.C., office, said the partners are a major addition to Thelen&rsquo;s growing presence in that market. &ldquo;The Cooke group provides this office, and the L&E group as a whole, with an opportunity to immediately achieve a critical mass of exceptional experts in a highly specialized practice area that has expanding needs and a limited number of truly qualified experts capable of meeting those needs,&rdquo; Ness said. </p>

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