Edward Young of Baker Donelson on Enjoying Work Despite Industry Changes

In our weekly blog, "Beyond the Bio," we ask MBQ Power Players to write a post of their choosing about their industry.

When I began practicing labor law over forty years ago, my practice was limited to an occasional United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Investigation and dealing with the National Labor Relations Act for clients facing union organizing, contract negotiations or arbitrations.

After the Memphis sanitation workers strike in 1968, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) organized other parts of city government, including what was then the John Gaston Hospital and long-term care facilities that were in Oakville and adjacent to the Shelby County Penal Farm. Shortly thereafter, an independent Hospital Authority was created, funded by both the city and county but administered by the county. The Authority combined the three facilities under its jurisdiction. Cleve Drennon, who was then Shelby County Attorney, asked me to represent the county in dealing with the AFSCME union labor negotiations at the Hospital Authority. I was the chief spokesman for the Authority in those negotiations, and I dealt with a union committee of more than 30 hospital workers. I can easily say it was the most pressure packed, intense labor negotiations I had ever been exposed to. After that I felt I could negotiate with any entity, any place, at any time.

Of course the law has changed since those days, and we now have a veritable alphabet soup of government agencies and statutes that labor and employment lawyers deal with. For example, OSHA, EEOC, ADA, ADEA, WARN, and on and on. Someone once said that the employment arena is the most heavily regulated part of American business. I agree. Even now we are on the threshold of additional areas of regulation and concern to American employers. The Affordable Care Act and its impact are on the horizon, as are the developing whistleblowing issues under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Where once in the early days of my practice, we could give advice readily on the telephone to our clients by simply keeping up with developments in a limited area of labor and employment law, today there are numerous subspecialties within the broad category of labor and employment. It is virtually impossible to keep up with the developments in all these areas of the law.

So I consider myself fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented attorneys at Baker Donelson who are knowledgeable in the many areas of this field of the law. It gives me a great deal of comfort to know that there are more than 60 other attorneys in our offices across the Southeast United States, including Florida and Texas, and in Washington, D.C., who “have my back.”

Intellectually, keeping up with all these areas is very satisfying, as a different question requiring careful thought and advice crosses my desk every day. I will credit Vince Lombardi with the saying that “It’s not work if you enjoy what you’re doing.” That is why I view my career as not being “work,” but as being something I thoroughly enjoy.


Power Player Bio in the category of Law: Employment

Edward R. Young

Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. B.S., University of Memphis; J.D., Vanderbilt. Represents employers in employment, NLRB, and Department of Labor litigation and collective bargaining and labor arbitration. Named to Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and Mid- South Super Lawyers. Member, Labor and Employment Law Section and Committee on Equal Em- ployment Opportunity Law, American Bar Association.FormerPresident, EconomicClub of Memphis and Memphis Jewish Federation.

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