Robert S. Gilmore likens the process of litigation to a chess match.
“I enjoy looking at a case – and the evidence – and developing a strategy for the client to get the best possible result,” said the partner at Cleveland-based Kohrman Jackson & Krantz and chair of the firm’s labor and employment group. “I also enjoy the intellectual process involved in litigation – crafting arguments and finding the best way to persuade the judge or jury,”
Gilmore frequently speaks for local and national conferences, and has been selected as a fellow at both The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and the Litigation Counsel of America.
CJN: What recent changes in employment law have most affected your clients?
Gilmore: Wage and hour law changes have been significant. The “white collar” exemptions have changed – so that, for employees to be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime laws, they must make at least $35,568 and meet the duties test for the executive, professional or administrative exemption. Also, the #MeToo movement has had a significant impact on employment law. There has been a rise in lawsuits and administrative charges alleging sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Companies should review their policies, procedures and training to make sure that they are acting in a preventive way to avoid these issues. And, if issues do arise, it is critical that companies take immediate action to investigate and determine the facts, and decide if disciplinary action should be taken.
CJN: What skills do you think are most important in terms of being successful in your practice?
Gilmore: This is a people business; as a lawyer, you are often thrust into a highly charged situation, with emotions running high on both sides. It is critical to be able to communicate effectively with your client in plain English, not legalese. I also must have a firm understanding of the company’s/individual’s business. Legal skill alone is not enough. Finally, negotiation skills are paramount, as much of my practice consists of finding the best resolution to the dispute.
CJN: What is the most common mistake your clients make?
Gilmore: Not regularly reviewing their employment/HR policies, handbook and procedures. It is important to stay up to date on labor and employment law issues, as they change often. It is also important to determine if certain policies should be changed or discarded, either because they are not being used, or they are no longer necessary. I also find that the performance review process at times is not handled as well as it should be. It is important to advise an employee of performance issues, rather than “sugar-coating” things, so as not to have a difficult conversation. This can be counter-productive and lead to issues if the company wants to terminate an employee later.
CJN: What is your most frequently given piece of legal advice?
Gilmore: Call first before taking action that may lead to legal issues. An ounce of prevention is often worth a pound of cure. It is far less expensive to handle a potential issue on the front end before it leads to litigation.
CJN: What do you least like about dealing with your opponents?
Gilmore: I don’t enjoy fighting about discovery issues that are not critical to the merits of the case. I prefer working in a civil way with my opponents to reach a compromise on issues, and avoid having an expensive fight that can be prevented. I find that this makes for a more efficient representation.