Interview with Alden J. Parker, California Labor and Employment Lawyer
We recently had the immense pleasure of interviewing Alden J. Parker, who at the time of this interview worked for Wientrab/ Tobin. He is now Regional Managing Partner and Co-Chair of the National Hospitality Industry Practice Group at Fisher Phillips. His experience shines through in this interview, and those who are entering the legal field will benefit from years of experience. He was previously a frequent contributor to the Labor and Employment Law Blog and continues to speak and write in the labor and employment law arena. The reader will walk away from this interview with a ‘relentless’ sense of urgency to get the job done.
What event or series of events led you to pursue employment law as your specialty? Please elaborate.
Growing up, I was given my great-grandfather’s journals. In them, he spoke of his time as an in house labor & employment attorney in San Francisco. While he went on to be a walnut farmer, his description of the struggle between employers and employees captivated me. In law school, I followed up on that early interest. In employment law, more than other areas of civil law, I liked the clear divide between the defense bar and the plaintiffs’ bar.
Name 1 or 2 specific challenges you have faced in the employment law specialty and the steps you took to meet these challenges.
The labor and employment field is increasingly competitive. As a younger lawyer, I worked hard at learning how best to defend employers faced with insulting and oftentimes emotional litigation. As your skills in taking deposition and writing motions for summary judgment increase, you then must work on how best to let people know what sets you apart from all the other attorneys in this field.
How would you advise an individual entering the legal professions to proceed? What are the challenges or obstacles that may be faced?
Learn to litigate first. You need to see how certain issues play out in court before you can properly advise people on how to handle their immediate workplace issues. Depending on where you work, the front line experience, i.e. taking depositions, may be difficult to come by in an employment case. If you need to, learn how to properly take depositions through other, smaller matters.
Can you give us an example of an interesting case or project that you have worked on and your role in helping to achieve a positive outcome?
Some of the more interesting cases I have worked on, factually, are probably not suitable for publication. The best thing about labor and employment law, however, is the issues are constantly changing. This keeps it interesting. From the increasing complexity of wage and hour class action litigation to the evolving area of social media and bring your own device policies, this area of the law is never boring.
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
When I came out of law school, the hiring market was not good. I was hoping to get an offer from one of the national labor and employment firms. However, with the job market at that time, I could not get hired by one of the firms I wanted. A friend of the family, who is an Alameda County Superior Court Judge, suggested I take a job with a litigation firm doing primarily insurance defense work. He let me know this would catapult my experience by exposing me to lots of different areas and give me front line experience with litigation through court appearances and depositions. During my first two years practicing, I watched as those new attorneys I knew with the nationals got stuck with office work and attending other people’s depositions, while I was in court or taking dozens of my own depositions. The assist on this advice goes to my first mentor, who gave me all those great opportunities. Thank you, Judge Nakahara and Jim Mirabel.
As an accomplished author of a blog related to employment law, what advice would you offer to the legal professional concerning the role of social media in their profession?
Make sure social media is only one aspect of your marketing strategy. Keep the posts relatively short. This will also help you maintain an increased frequency for your posts. Finally, spend some more time on your titles. Make them fun and interesting for the reader.
This is the last question and time for the inner lawyer in you to break free. What is the key strength you bring to your career, and how would you advise legal professionals to mine their own strengths to further their careers.
Relentlessness. As a young attorney, my relentless nature helped show the partners I worked for that I was willing to step in at any time to work hard, regardless of how busy I was. As my practical litigation skills increased, my relentlessness helped grow my relationship with clients throughout the country.
Each attorney must develop their own legal personality. However, a true professional is also going to think about how that personality will affect and in some cases direct their career. Different personalities are suited for different areas of the law. Make sure you understand those differences and adapt your legal personality to fit the area of law you want to pursue.
We thank Alden Parker for taking the time to share his experiences and advice for our audience. You can learn more about Alden on LinkedIn.