By Bennett Loudon, originally published in The Daily Record on March 9, 2017.

Young Lawyers partner with HR pros for CLE

Now that Phillips Lytle LLP associate Alissa Fortuna-Valentine has a few years of experience under her belt, she wants to help others who may be new to one of her specialties — employment law.

“I remember starting out in employment law, and I was given my first employment discrimination claim before the (New York state) Division of Human Rights. I had no idea what I was doing. Like with many other areas it’s so nuanced,” said Fortuna-Valentine, a graduate of the University at Buffalo Law School who has been practicing since 2014.

As a co-chair of the Monroe County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, Fortuna-Valentine saw an opportunity to create a CLE for inexperienced employment law practitioners. The program is scheduled for 12:15 to 2 p.m. March 22 in the Rubin Center for Education, 1 W. Main St.

“What we have been talking about at board meetings is the need for CLEs in specific practice areas geared toward young practitioners and also the need to engage communities other than the legal community,” she said.

The Young Lawyers Section organized the CLE in conjunction with the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Speakers will include attorneys Katherine S. McClung, from Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC; Kevin Mulvehill, from Phillips Lytle; Pamela C. Reynolds, from Littler Mendelson PC; and Ann Rushlow, director of human resources for Conifer Realty.

The CLE will cover all phases of an employment discrimination claim before an administrative agency, from first receipt of the complaint to conducting a hearing before an administrative law judge. The speakers will cover applicable procedural rules and will offer advice on strategies.

Fortuna-Valentine said the Young Lawyers Section is planning to organize more CLEs with other professional organizations, which will not only provide useful legal training but networking opportunities outside the legal community.

“We’ll start at the basic level and go all the way from receiving the complaint through when you would possibly hold a hearing before an administrative law judge at the Division of Human Rights. The process is a little different before the EEOC, but we’re going to cover both,” Fortuna-Valentine said.

She said a strong relationship between the attorney representing a company and the company’s human resources professional is important.

“It’s essential that both of you work together because you’ll need that person for gathering of documentation, putting a litigation hold on all documents related to that employee and that claim,” she said.

“It’s essential that you cultivate that relationship, that you’re clear and you communicate well with each other,” she said.