Jeff Weintraub is among what might be one of the few third-generation lawyer families in Memphis.
His father Sam made a name for himself in labor and employment law in this area after coming out of World War II. He attended Georgetown and then was sent to Memphis by the National Labor Relations Board to open a field office before leaving that to start his own firm.
It was in a triangular office in the Falls Building, Weintraub recalled about the firm his father started. And his mother was a secretary there.
“I had never been interested in following my dad’s footsteps, and bless his heart, he never pushed me,” Weintraub said.
Now, not only is Weintraub the younger an attorney himself – he’s the managing partner in the recently opened Memphis office of Fisher & Phillips LLP – but his own children, despite likewise never pushing them to do so, are following in his footsteps.
His daughter, Betsy, came aboard with Fisher & Phillips this year, and she’s now an associate attorney. And one of Weintraub’s sons is about to enter his third year of law school.
Weintraub was already into another career from which he had to pivot before becoming a lawyer. He actually was a schoolteacher at an institution that shut down in the 1970s for economic reasons, and after being offered a less-than-impressive offer to teach at another school, he decided the time was right to pursue law school.
“I started as an economic decision, and I had just gotten married at the time,” said Weintraub, who’s now been in practice for more than three decades.
Weintraub’s previous firm – The Weintraub Firm PC, co-founded by his father – merged earlier this year with Atlanta-based Fisher & Phillips. He was joined by another partner, Craig Cowart, who came from Kiesewetter Wise Kaplan Prather PLC.
Cowart has represented management clients in state and federal employment litigation and in administrative proceedings before state and federal agencies. Among other things, he counsels employers about workplace issues, including discipline and discharge decisions.
Fisher & Phillips chairman and managing partner Roger Quillen said earlier this year that the new offices were strategically chosen and that Memphis is among markets that are important to the firm’s clients.
Weintraub’s firm is a management-side labor boutique firm, and though his previous outfit already had national exposure, Weintraub said having the connection with a truly national labor and employment law firm has been a valuable experience, in terms of additional client contacts and additional resources.
“It’s pretty amazing to have all the labor and employment law resources at your fingertips,” he said.
Weintraub represents public- and private-sector employers in employment harassment, discrimination and retaliatory discharge lawsuits and in EEOC charges, wage and hour cases, labor cases, and enforcing non-competes in all federal and state courts and agencies, as well as various Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He also represents employers in union-related matters.
Weintraub is a frequent speaker at employment and labor seminars around the country, and for many years, he has taught the employee relations and labor component in the Society for Human Resource Management’s HR Certification course in Memphis.
Weintraub is admitted to practice in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
Employment jury cases are among the several things he enjoys about the job.
“We don’t get to try as many cases as general practitioners, and I’m often envious of them because some of them get to be in court every day,” Weintraub said. “Ours is more of a motion practice. We win a lot on summary judgment, sometimes get a good settlement and sometimes we get to try one.”
Weintraub’s advice to young attorneys is to narrow your focus. Learn as much as possible about one area, and let that be your niche.
“Learn everything you can. Go to seminars. Go to every class you can take on the subject,” Weintraub said. “Every (continuing legal education) course you can take. There are wonderful jury trial lawyer seminars around the country. Any way you can get experience in the courtroom, I would say jump at it. The way I started out, we didn’t really have learning vehicles back then. We had a partner leave, and I was thrown headfirst into a number of cases.”