Cozen O’Connor is once again adding to its growing labor and employment department, this time tapping a lawyer fresh off more than four decades with the National Labor Relations Board.
The firm’s latest addition is Barry Kearney, former associate general counsel of the NLRB, where he worked for 46 years. He will serve as of counsel in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.
Kearney had worked with Joe Tilson, the firm’s labor and employment co-chairman, and others from Cozen O’Connor on the American Bar Association’s developing labor law committee. When they learned he was planning to retire from the NLRB, the firm approached him about joining in Washington, labor and employment co-chairman Tom Giotto said.
Kearney, who was in the NLRB’s division of advice for 30 years, said his job there was demanding and he wanted to cut back on work while continuing to contribute to the legal community. Calling labor law “a dying art,” he said it has become difficult for a shrinking base of labor-focused lawyers to understand the intricacies of the law.
“The NLRB politically has changed over the years, and it’s not always the easiest thing to discern on any given issue what the board labor law is,” Kearney said. “I bring an experience that will help resolve some of those seeming conflicts in board law.”
Giotto said he expects that Kearney will serve as a resource to the firm’s existing clients and labor and employment lawyers, but added that clients will likely begin to seek him out for his intimate knowledge of NLRB law.
“He has seen, and written, and guided the agency on every major decision that has come out of the labor board under every administration, whether it’s Republican or Democrat,” Giotto said.
Kearney is just the latest in a string of recruits joining Cozen O’Connor, including many in the labor and employment practice, a popular area for large and midsize firm laterals in recent months.
Last week, the firm announced that partner Vincent Candiello, of Post & Schell, had joined Cozen O’Connor in Harrisburg as its first labor and employment lawyer there. And in May, the firm brought on 22 labor and employment lawyers from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Giotto said the firm has its eye on even more hires within the labor and employment department. Lawyers are starting to reach out to the firm about joining the practice as well, he said.
According to the firm, Cozen O’Connor’s labor and employment group, now at more than 70 lawyers, has doubled in size since 2015. The Washington, D.C., office now has more than 60 attorneys.