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Publications | February 12, 2018
3 minute read

Attorney Spotlight: Pam Enslen, Labor and Employment Partner

Pam Enslen is a Kalamazoo-based counselor, litigator and mediator. Although Pam began her education at the University of Michigan as a music major, she eventually moved her performance to the law. Pam is highly regarded in her profession and was the American Bar Association’s official observer of the trial proceedings for the alleged organizers of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. Those proceedings were held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO). 

Q. How did you become interested in employment law? 

I worked as a law clerk in federal court after law school. I had the opportunity to observe and participate in many trials. I especially enjoyed working on matters involving federal constitutional and statutory questions. Employment law was particularly interesting and the legal issues were complicated because of the human dynamics involved. I knew when I left my employment with the federal court that I wanted to focus a good portion of my practice in the area of labor and employment law.    

Q. How do you see your different roles as counselor, litigator and mediator? 

As a counselor, my role is to provide solid advice to clients. To do so, I need to understand the client’s unique culture. My advice needs to be consistent with and protect that culture. As a litigator, I assume the role of advocate working to obtain the best possible result for my client.  Litigation is very much about winning and losing and my job is to make sure my client comes out a winner. I am often chosen to act as a neutral mediator by other attorneys who retain me to work with their clients to resolve their own lawsuits. Being a mediator has made me a better advocate and has given me a better understanding of the true role of an advocate. Often, the best resolution of a conflict is not by trial, but rather through a mutually agreed-upon resolution that allows the parties in a dispute to save time, money and avoid disruption, and to move on in their businesses and lives.  

Q. How did you become licensed in Michigan and in California and Massachusetts? 

I have always lived in Michigan, but have had clients with offices in California and Massachusetts, who thought it would be beneficial for me to have licenses in both of those states as well. I continue to maintain the bar memberships in all three states.
Q. What cautions or advice would you give to an employer going through a jury trial? 

The men and women of the jury should not be underestimated nor taken for granted. Also, they do not tolerate dishonesty. I always advise my clients to remember that jurors are people just like them, with joys, sorrows and lifetime baggage they carry. Often, my best advice is to tell a client to be herself and the jury will respond appropriately. 

Q. What are the three biggest issues brewing for employers right now? 

Sexual harassment is a big issue, and one that continues to grow in scope and complexity. You can see this building in the “#metoo” movement. Use and abuse of social media is also an area where employers are encountering unusual and complex issues. I also believe that questions about free speech and freedom of association outside of the workplace will continue to pose issues for employers.

Q. In the current legal environment, what general advice would you give employers?

The approach of the Trump administration to employment matters is very different from the Obama administration. A number of states are reacting by adopting employment laws that are different from federal law. Employers need to keep an eye on this. This is a logical time for employers to review their written policies and handbooks to make sure they are up to date. Employee training, especially those in management roles, should be revisited to be sure that everyone understands the employer’s policies and what to do when an issue arises.