Authors

Jeffrey Risch – Through many years of both in-house and private practice experience, I offer employers clear and decisive advice to proactively manage workplace problems involving wage/hour claims, traditional labor union matters, prevailing wage disputes, unfair competition, wrongful termination charges as well as government regulation/audit.  I also possess the experience and skill to litigate matters successfully through trial.  I particularly enjoy helping employers grow their business and create jobs; while sustaining profitability.  My passion is to assist management in exercising its right to effectively manage despite growing workplace regulation and scrutiny.

Beverly Alfon – Since joining SA, I have repeatedly been introduced as a recent defectee from the dark side (almost 10 years on the union-side) – who is now using the force for the good of employers.  I fell into L&E when I was fresh out of college and worked two jobs – one of which was as a legal assistant at a small labor and employment firm in Boston.  I was immediately fascinated by all of it and what was true then, still holds true today: the politics and people that permeate this flavor of law make it greater than fiction.  You just can’t make this stuff up!  It is what makes this work so challenging and so very interesting at the same time.

Carlos Arévalo – As a products liability defense attorney in my initial years of practice, I happened to work on a “personnel” matter for one of my then firm’s clients.  I was intrigued and in a few years, I had made a complete switch.  As I look back now, I realize that while the science in my products cases was appealing to me, it pales in comparison to the human emotions, dynamics and relational aspects of my L&E practice – folks do take these matters seriously!  My clients often tell me that I am a calming influence in the midst of intense and sometimes chaotic situations.  I like to think that I am very adept at recognizing, dealing with and resolving whatever issue is in front of them.  Clients appreciate the work I do for them – I love it and thrive on it!

Heather Bailey –  I think they should play a song as lawyers approach the bench the way they do for baseball players when they are coming up to bat. My inspiring song would be Express Yourself by Madonna.  I love what I do, and it shows in my results each day! I’ve been a litigation attorney for more than 10 years. My client relationships are strong not only because I advocate in my clients’ best interests but because my clients can trust me and know I’m always there for them.  This reminds me of my favorite quote: “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” – Muhammad Ali

Rebecca Dobbs Bush – I am an attorney in the labor and employment practice group working out of the St. Charles office of SmithAmundsen LLC.  I focus my practice on various employee benefit matters, including everything from transactional work through litigation.  Prior to becoming an attorney, I spent my days working directly in the trenches of HR.

Noah Frank – I am a “human resources attorney,” with a storied employment background from costume entertainer to founder of a physical therapy clinic, to developer of human resources policies for the University of Illinois.  I add value to employers and management in the ever-increasingly regulated arena that comes with having human capital in the 21st Century by providing practical and thoughtful advice and strategy, and a strong defense should a matter arise to litigation.  The best part of my “job” is achieving success with my client-partner, and knowing that business can and will go on.

Gail Galante – I have represented employers in workers’ compensation matters for 25 years, from initial evaluation to appeals in the circuit court and appellate court.   My pre-law career was in human resources  so I understand the employer’s perspective.  I have represented a variety of employers, including non-profit organizations, faith based organizations, health care, municipal and manufacturing organizations.

Jeff Glass – I am an experienced business attorney in SmithAmundsen’s Rockford office.   Much of my practice is devoted to representing employers in emergency injunction litigation to enforce restrictive covenants.  These cases usually involve related areas such as trade secret misappropriation and breach of fiduciary duty.  I also draft employment agreements and advise employers on how to safeguard their confidential information and prevent unfair competition by their employees.

Kelly Haab-Tallitsch – Having been “on the inside” working in corporate compensation and benefits prior to law school, I know what it’s like to be in my client’s shoes. I really enjoy helping human resource professionals navigate the complex and technical areas of employee benefits and executive compensation. A favorite law professor used to say, “If we were good at math, we’d be in medical school instead of law school.” Nevertheless, I still love the detailed and technical aspects of this area of law, whether it’s interpreting a statute or analyzing the numbers.

Jonathan Hoag – I became interested in representing employers during my years as a human resources professional.  I returned to law school intent on defending employers from the growing number of legal issues within the labor and employment arena.  I’m a dedicated advocate in the courtroom, but most of all I enjoy working closely with human resources managers to take proactive steps that help organizations stay out of the courtroom.

Michael Hughes – I’ve been practicing labor & employment law my entire career. Before becoming an attorney, I worked for several years as a supervisor and manager in the food manufacturing industry, giving me a unique perspective to many of my clients’ needs and issues. I enjoy helping employers work through the challenges of managing a workforce in today’s world, whether that involves managing my clients’ relationship with a union, dealing with employee disputes, litigating cases, or counseling my clients on compliance with the alphabet soup of statutory and regulatory requirements. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and coaching my four sons’ sports teams.

Steven Jados – I am an attorney in the Labor & Employment group in the St. Charles office.  I have practiced in a wide range of labor and employment law-related areas since 2006—first for union clients, but most recently, on the management side.  I love the competitive aspect of litigation, and I enjoy spending my free time with my wife, son, and daughter.

Leslie Johnson – I have worked as a jail guard and a union roofer. I have represented Fortune 100 companies and 2-person operations. With my experience, pragmatic approach and relationships with attorneys and the judiciary, I provide my clients with the best cost and risk limiting work comp defense advice with superb results. My business acumen, resulting from educational and practical experience, gives my clients with an attorney who recognizes that their legal challenges can also have significant business operation implications

Nick Kourvetaris – In my profession, I shoulder the burden of others- it’s not something I take lightly. I’ve been a trusted advisor and litigator for over 15 years with 33 jury trials under my belt.  Of those 33 trials, 16 of them resulted in not guilty verdicts for clients. Of the remaining 17 trials, 14 of them resulted in defense verdicts where the juries only awarded nuisance value sums of money to the Plaintiffs. Other career highlights include being asked out by a Plaintiff after grilling her on the witness stand and winning the case against her, and being awarded a not guilty verdict by a Cook County Jury in 3 minutes after a weeklong trial. My Greek ancestors have a word – arête – which is the pursuit of excellence for its own sake. Arête is something that I strive to demonstrate in my practice and as a teacher of legal research and writing at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Alexis Maimonis – I am a Workers’ Compensation attorney located in the Chicago office. I have represented and counseled employers through all aspects of workers’ compensation claims including preliminary opinion and analysis of claim, trial preparation, and appeals up to and including the appellate court level.  I believe the key to effective representation of employers in the workers compensation arena begins by taking the time to understand the needs of the client and being able to craft a defense plan that is cost efficient and effective.

Jacqueline Lentini McCullough – I have been practicing business employment immigration for more than eleven years. I went to law school to work with immigrants after my experience counseling international students in the university environment. Whenever the university could not fix an international student issue, we sent the case to an attorney making me curious about immigration law as a career. Outside the firm my twin boys keep me very busy.

Debra Mastrian – I am an employment and trial lawyer with over 20 years’ experience, representing public and private companies, including financial institutions, in a wide range of matters. My highly competitive nature, which was fostered by my heavy involvement in different sports throughout my life, naturally led me to become a litigator.  While I enjoy being in the courtroom, I understand that, as Abraham Lincoln once said, with litigation the “nominal winner is often a real loser—in fees, expenses, and waste of time.”  So, I enjoy advising clients on how to avoid litigation and comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations, including by developing or updating employment policies and employee handbooks, conducting effective workplace investigations, administering employee discipline and drafting severance and release agreements.  When I am not at work you may find me fueling my competitive spirit on the golf course or finding my Zen by hiking or running. I enjoy spending time with my husband (also an attorney) and my three children.

Suzanne Newcomb – I cut my teeth litigating employment disputes from the plaintiff’s side so I know firsthand what prompts an employee to call a lawyer.  The work was rewarding and fun – I once helped an employee win a 3.5 million dollar jury verdict – however, I was struck by how often litigation could have been avoided.  It often seemed the lawyers were the only winners.  In 2008, I decided to use the skills I had developed to help employers resolve disputes before an employee calls the EEOC or, worse, a plaintiff’s lawyer. Today, I get to know my client’s business and craft effective yet workable policies (nothing gets a plaintiff’s lawyer more excited than a written policy his targeted employer ignored) and guide my client through problems in real time. When litigation does occur -any business can face an employee hell-bent on suing – I defend the case confidently knowing we put the right policies in place and enforced them consistently.

Julie Proscia – The best part of my job is getting to know about my clients and their businesses; taking the tour. I love learning how they started out in a garage and worked hard and grew to 50 or 2000 employees. I carry my own safety glasses and ear protection and now have knowledge of a multitude of industries that is an inch deep and a mile wide. I concentrate my practice in both employment litigation and traditional labor issues.

Larry Smith – I graduated from the College of Holy Cross and the University of Michigan Law School.  Both of my parents were lawyers, so the typical conversation over dinner indoctrinated me in the differences being just a lawyer and a “counselor.”  Back in the day when trying jury trials was a recognized specialty, I became an employment lawyer by winning a retaliatory discharge case for a corporate client.  These days, you can reach me on the weekends by yelling “fore!”

Stepfon Smith – Since 1994, I have worked in various Fortune 500 HR departments as an HR Generalist, HR Manager, Employment Director and Benefits Consultant.  After graduating from law school in 2003, I have spent most of my professional time representing employers.  Advising HR departments is what I do best.  From position statements to trial, I have seen it all.  Other than building a future for my family, I get a lot of satisfaction out of getting to know my clients and earning their trust over time.  Being a trusted advisor is something that I take very seriously.

Allison Sues – I am an attorney in the labor and employment group working out of the Chicago office. Employment law fascinates me because of its constant evolution and human element. Having practiced exclusively in this area for five years, I have experience defending employers in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and failure to accommodate claims in state and federal court, as well as at the administrative level. I also particularly enjoy counseling clients based on the insight I’ve gained from litigation so that charges and lawsuits can be proactively avoided.

Brian Tobin – In my years of practice representing employers and insurers in workers’ comp cases, I have confirmed many times that an important aspect in developing a successful defense of any claim is working in concert with those who are most closely connected to the events being litigated. I totally investigate and understand the facts and issues of the case including the mechanism of alleged accident, the nature and extent of an injury, the medical treatment involved and any potential available defenses. By following this approach, I am better prepared to represent the interests of clients at any stage in the case. This is what you, as a client, expect and is what I, as your attorney, strive to provide.

Michael Wong – I am attorney in the labor and employment practice group working out of the St. Charles office of SmithAmundsen, LLC.  I have worked on both the plaintiff and defense side of litigation, which allows me to offer different perspectives and strategies to employers on how to remedy and prevent labor and employment law disputes.  What I enjoy the most about practicing law is getting to know my clients and solving their problems, whether that be simply providing advice and counseling, resolving a matter through settlement or fully litigating a matter.  My experience is in legal matters concerning wage and hour issues, discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims, civil-rights laws and §1983 claims, contract disputes, and complex litigation of state, administrative and federal laws.

Sara Stertz Zorich – I have been practicing law since 2006 but have been focusing my practice solely on Labor and Employment issues since 2009. My work involves defending and counseling companies on wage and hour issues, discrimination claims and workplace enforcement issues. I come from a family of attorneys (my dad and two siblings are lawyers too!). Outside the office you’ll probably find me skiing or watching/attending collegiate sports with my husband and family.

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