Employment Partner Discusses Changes in Employment Law Practice

The Recorder (California) | November.04.2013

Silicon Valley employment partner Lynne Hermle sat down with The Recorder to discuss the rise of employment law. An excerpt from the interview is included below.

The Recorder: How have you seen employment law change and evolve over the course of your practice?

Hermle: The practice of employment law has changed extraordinarily over the past 30 years in which I've been practicing. In the early '80s, if you began to practice, it was not really litigation focused. There would be administrative proceedings before the EEOC or the NLRB. There might some collective bargaining arbitrations and negotiations. But we didn't really see many employment lawsuits; there were only a handful.

Then in the mid '80s the litigation took over and we began to see a lot of contract and covenant claims, and that just continued to expand. The litigation got more and more complex. If you began three decades ago, as I did, you were doing pretty much small cases: Jones v. Joe's Autobody, and Mr. Jones might claim that he was wrongfully fired. Over the years, we started to get the tidal wave of wage and hour class actions and discrimination class actions. What happened is the poor step-children of the litigation practice-employment lawyers-began to handle some of the most procedurally and substantively complex class cases in the history of American litigation. So now if you talk to an employment lawyer who has significant litigation practice, the odds are it's on par with any complex litigation in any area of practice.

I realized the other day when a client referred to me their consumer and other class action counsel that I've defended about 150 class cases, and these lawyers who do very big cases have done maybe a tenth of that.​