Name: Russell Jackson – Partner, FordHarrison LLP Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Business: FordHarrison LLP, a national labor and employment firm, representing employers.
What is the backstory of your business?
When? FordHarrison was founded in 1978 in Atlanta, Georgia. The firm merged with a local firm and opened the Memphis office in 1997. I joined the firm in 2016, but I have been practicing for 13 years, having worked at another labor and employment firm prior to joining FordHarrison.
Why? I joined FordHarrison because of the firm’s excellent reputation for client service, as well as the quality of attorneys in the firm, specifically those in the Memphis office with whom I have the pleasure to work. We only represent businesses, and I enjoy helping those businesses in a wide array of industries by problem solving and counseling through complex issues concerning the employment relationship, as well as defending our clients against claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, restrictive covenants, and wage and hour violations.
How? Our firm has offices across the country, so I am in a great position to help clients not only with matters locally and throughout the state, but also to call on my colleagues to help them no matter where a challenge may arise. First and foremost, I believe in being extremely responsive and providing excellent communication with my clients, which involves listening every bit as much as providing my expertise. Also, having worked in-house, I understand through personal experience how clients’ legal and HR departments operate, which helps me to effectively address their needs.
Tell us your role in the business. I was recently named Managing Partner of our firm’s Memphis office, which is located in East Memphis on the Germantown border. In my role, I assist businesses through advice on employment issues, as well as defending them at the local, state, and federal level against claims concerning the employment relationship – e.g., discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, wage and hour violations, etc.
What are the biggest challenges? Some of the tougher challenges are in helping clients with a national presence keep up with an ever-changing landscape of employment laws across the country. This has been a particular challenge over the past year as employers manage their businesses during COVID. Laws and restrictions to employers differ across industries, as well as states and even municipalities. Fortunately, our firm has excellent resources and a wealth of knowledge across our offices nationwide, so we’re able to help our clients deal with these kinds of issues.
What are the biggest rewards? Personally, the biggest rewards are seeing my clients realize a particular success. Whether that’s fighting off a lawsuit, a complaint from a government agency, or dealing with a wage and hour audit, the reward is a happy client. The relationship I have with my clients is incredibly important to me, so their success is my reward. That being said, when I am involved in litigation against an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney or dealing with a particularly thorny issue, I very much enjoy discussing the strategy and the details and trying to win, however a win may be defined by the client.
How does your business give back to the community? Our attorneys and staff donate their time, energy, and resources to improve the quality of life in the local communities where we live and work. In addition to public service through volunteering and fundraising for local and national charitable non-profit organizations, our lawyers also provide pro bono legal services to non-profit organizations all over the country. We believe our lawyers have a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those of limited means, and that pro bono service is an opportunity for the professional development and growth of all lawyers. FordHarrison partners and associates throughout the firm serve as national labor and employment counsel on a pro bono basis for Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat affiliates located near our firm’s offices across the country. FordHarrison has donated over 5,000 billable hours to the organization since establishing the relationship in 2007. For the past three years, we have dedicated our annual holiday card to celebrate our long-term pro bono partnership with Habitat for Humanity International and allowed recipients to participate in an interactive fundraising campaign. Locally, our firm’s attorneys and staff contribute resources to charitable organizations, whether that is through our annual donations to the Mid-South Food Bank, participation in charity fundraisers, or serving on the boards of non-profit organizations.
Russel Jackson-Partner, FordHarrison LLP
If your business is in Germantown, why did you choose Germantown? While our firm’s Memphis office is located less than a mile west of Germantown, I chose to be involved with the Germantown Chamber because of the quality of the membership, both in terms of the companies that belong to the Chamber as well as the individuals that participate on behalf of the member companies. I’m a lifelong resident of Memphis and love Germantown (including playing for the soccer team Germantown Fury). I truly value the relationship I have with the members of the Germantown Chamber, sharing their desire to see the area thrive. This is my community, and I love being involved and contributing to its success.
Has your business received any recommendations or awards? FordHarrison was recognized in the 2021 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers list of “Best Law Firms.” The firm was recognized at a national level in three practice areas, including Employment Law – Management (Tier 1), Labor Law – Management (Tier 1), and Litigation – Labor & Employment (Tier 1). The firm also received 26 “Metropolitan First-Tier Rankings” for a variety of practice areas in 12 U.S. cities, 10 “Metropolitan Second-Tier Rankings” in nine U.S. cities, and five “Metropolitan Third-Tier Rankings” in three U.S. cities. Additionally, Best Lawyers selected 57 FordHarrison attorneys for inclusion in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.
Locally, the firm’s Memphis office received Tier 1 rankings for Employment Law, Labor Law and Litigation (Labor & Employment), while four of our office’s attorneys were listed by Best Lawyers in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers in America, including one who was named Lawyer of the Year for Labor Law. Additionally, five attorneys in the firm’s Tennessee offices have been selected for inclusion on the 2020 “Mid-South Super Lawyers” list or the 2020 “Mid-South Rising Stars” list by Super Lawyers magazine.
How has being a Chamber member helped your business? Being a member of the Chamber has helped our firm stay in touch with businesses through the area, and help them by providing content that informs them on some of the most recent developments impacting their businesses and the relationship with their employees. In doing so, several members of the Chamber have retained our firm for work, so the relationship has been incredibly beneficial for our firm and the clients with whom we have connected through the Chamber. Aside from the direct impact, however, being a member of the Chamber keeps us all connected to a community that we are invested in and want to see succeed.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your business? The relationship we have with our clients is the most valuable thing to our firm and to our individual attorneys. Many of our friends and former colleagues are working at companies in the area, so we are invested in those relationships, and the level of client service we provide reflects the value that we place on those relationships. Being part of the Germantown Chamber is an extension of the commitment to service and pride we have in the city as well as to our firm.
FordHarrison is holding a webinar next Thursday, March 18th at Noon to explain what to expect in the new year in Employment Law as the Biden administration takes office. Please tune in to make sure you're business is on top of all the changes. New Year, New Administration: What To Expect in Employment Law As The Biden Administration Takes Office