The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Aparna Joshi, Partner—Labor
Aparna B. Joshi represents employers in a wide variety of labor and employment matters. She has substantial experience advising aviation industry clients and representing airlines in federal court litigation under the Railway Labor Act, as well as in labor arbitrations, mediations, and collective bargaining negotiations. She also has substantial experience representing employers in whistleblower matters and employment class action litigation and in proceedings before the National Mediation Board and other administrative tribunals.
Additionally, Aparna represents employers in a wide range of employment discrimination matters, including cases brought pursuant to Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. She further routinely advises clients on various day-to-day labor and employment matters.
Aparna actively works to improve diversity in the legal profession, including as a member of the firm’s Diversity Working Group and as a past fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a growing organization of more than 200 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
I am a management-side labor and employment lawyer. In my practice, I advocate for employers in litigation brought by single plaintiffs, multiple parties, and massive purported class actions. I also negotiate collective bargaining agreements on behalf of employers with the unions representing their employees, arbitrate issues of contract interpretation arising from collective bargaining agreements, and handle employee representation matters before the National Mediation Board—the federal agency charged with facilitating labor-management relations in the airline and railroad industries. I further specialize in helping airlines handle their most important labor and employment challenges, including helping to mobilize a rapid response to large-scale workforce crises, such as unlawful job actions.
What types of clients do you represent?
I primarily represent airlines and transportation companies.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I provide advice and counseling on day-to-day employment and labor issues like discipline and discharge, negotiate collective bargaining agreements, and represent employers in arbitrations involving disagreements regarding application of the terms of those collective bargaining agreements. I also litigate issues involving unlawful job actions like work slowdowns and other litigation arising from the employment relationship.
How did you choose this practice area?
I was drawn to labor and employment law because I believe that the laws protecting employees from, for example, workplace discrimination are enormously important. I wanted to help employers comply with those laws and at the same time, protect employers against the illegitimate use of those laws.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
As overused as it is, there really is no typical day. My practice is wide ranging—everything from labor negotiations to arbitration to litigation—so what I’m doing and where I am is often changing. One day, I may be editing a brief; the next day, I may be preparing for oral argument; and then, I may get on a plane to meet with my client, the union, and the National Mediation Board in collective bargaining negotiations. It never gets boring.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
While it is always helpful to have some background in labor and employment law, the best skills to have are writing and oral advocacy. You need to be able to clearly set forth your client’s position no matter what you are doing, and those skills are invaluable.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Working with our clients in a trusted advisor role to help them achieve their goals is the best part of my practice. I find a great deal of satisfaction in that.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
The biggest misconception that I get is the view that working on the management side is the “dark side.” I have not found that to be the case at all. I have had the good fortune to work with smart, principled, decent people who are trying to do what is best for their employees and their businesses.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
I am lucky to work with incredibly talented junior lawyers, and we aim to staff in a way that places our junior lawyers in the thick of whatever we may be doing from the start. For example, they work on preparing witnesses for testimony, identifying the most relevant documents, crafting opening statements, drafting post-hearing briefs, developing responses to discovery requests, developing arguments, drafting motions, and attending arbitrations.
What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?
Lawyers generally join our practice directly out of law school or following a clerkship. And even beyond law firms, there are nearly limitless opportunities in-house and in government because everyone has employees!