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Laura M. Franze Partner Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, Dallas Laura M. Franze grew up near Pittsburgh — union territory. Her grandfather went on strike when he was a steelworker. Her grandmother was a union organizer. Her uncles belonged to a union. So Franze was a little nervous when she told her relatives that she would be representing management in labor disputes. No problem. Her grandmother’s reaction was that management needs good people, like her granddaughter, in its ranks. Since getting her law degree from Duke University School of Law in 1979 — several years early because she graduated ahead of time from high school and college — Franze worked in the labor and employment field, first in Ohio and then in Texas. Now 44, Franze has practiced at Akin, Gump since 1995, where she is head of the labor and employment practice group in the firm’s Dallas office. In Texas, she has done a mixture of labor and employment law, including a number of cases involving the Americans With Disabilities Act. She represented the defendant movie theater in Lara v. Cinemark, which was the first case challenging the seating configuration at movie theaters to reach a circuit court. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Franze’s client, the movie theater. Franze says the field gives her variety in her practice, as well as the opportunity to build strong bonds with her clients. “I represent clients in arbitration. I provide day-to-day counseling, and I represent them at the courthouse,” she says. “I have clients that I literally have represented since day one of my career. I still represent clients that I represented in Ohio.”

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