July 07, 2003

Prominent Labor Relations Group Joins Venable

4 min

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 7, 2003) – Long-time Washington labor lawyer and negotiator David S. Smith has brought his firm, Institutional Labor Advisors, to Venable LLP where it will be known as Venable Institutional Labor Advisors. The group serves major utilities, natural-resource firms and otherFortune 500 companies with a comprehensive legal and consulting practice in collective bargaining, cost containment, lobbying, labor planning, and labor analysis related to mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, bankruptcies and other situations where labor issues are significant. ILA also represents clients before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Mr. Smith, 57, will be based in Venable's Northern Virginia office.

Throughout his career, Mr. Smith has negotiated numerous watershed labor agreements and represented companies in contract administration and arbitrations with some of the country’s most powerful unions, including the United Steelworkers of America, United Mine Workers of America, the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical, and Energy International Union, the Laborers Union, the Teamsters, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Moving to Venable with Mr. Smith are Merritt J. Green, Gregory J. Ossi and Jan W. Sturner who join as associates. Venable now has 30 lawyers practicing in all aspects of labor relations and employment law.

“David Smith is one of the premier labor lawyers in the Washington area and, indeed, the country,” said Robert G. Ames, co-chair of Venable’s Labor and Employment Practice. “His group will supplement our considerable representation of clients in proceedings under the National Labor Relations Act, especially during collective bargaining. The addition of Institutional Labor Advisors, which has enjoyed a strong reputation among labor professionals since its founding in 1997, will allow us to provide clients with increased assistance in addressing the potential for managing labor costs in acquisitions, corporate restructurings and high-stakes collective bargaining.”

Mr. Smith noted that the U.S. is in the midst of a seminal period in labor relations, as economic contraction and rising health care costs have pressured companies into reducing benefits for employees, making negotiations with labor unions all the more difficult. Congress is debating legislation to extend prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients, potentially reducing some of the burden of those costs on companies and pensioners. A principal challenge facing Mr. Smith’s group is how to help clients restructure health care and prescription drug plans and formularies so that their plans remain acceptable to employees and unionized workers.

“Health care costs have become an increasingly difficult labor issue over the past several years, and now the problem is reaching crisis proportions,” said Mr. Smith.

David Smith has over 30 years experience in labor law and collective bargaining negotiations. Beginning in 1970, he was staff labor attorney for the principal multiemployer bargaining unit in the coal industry, the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association (BCOA) – comprised of over 290 corporations including steel companies, electric utilities and coal companies. At the BCOA, Mr. Smith coordinated and advised member companies in arbitration and grievances arising out of the national collective bargaining agreement and was a participant in collective bargaining for the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1971.

Mr. Smith moved into private labor practice in 1973 and immediately began counseling large corporations and organizations facing sensitive labor and union issues. In 1997, he co-founded Institutional Labor Advisors, one of the few legal and consulting practices focusing on labor relations and providing focused labor-relations services and training to senior managers atFortune 500 companies in industries in energy, mining and utilities, media and communications and other sectors.

“It will help us fulfill our clients’ expectations to be associated with a large multi-disciplinary firm that can supplement the work we do,” said Mr. Smith. “Venable has an outstanding reputation for serving its clients very well. I have known some of the attorneys here for a long time, and have known them to be outstanding attorneys and excellent people.”

Mr. Smith earned his J.D. in 1970 from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He is admitted to practice before the Courts of the District of Columbia, Virginia, Tennessee, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third and Fourth Circuits as well as the Supreme Court of the United States.

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia.