MWELA Names Richard Seymour “Lawyer of the Year”

On March 9, 2007, the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association (“MWELA”) honored Richard Seymour by naming him its “Lawyer of the Year.”

In presenting the award, MWELA President Linda Correia stated:

It is my great privilege to tell you that Rick Seymour is our Lawyer of the Year.

Rick has the kind of encyclopedic knowledge of the law that I would love to have. You know what I mean. Rick has a truly scary ability to talk about any issue in employment law and to cite cases – and I mean CITE cases, with pinpoint cites and cites to footnotes and the dates on which they were decided. If he is in the middle of a presentation and says, I’ll get that cite for you later, he doesn’t mean after he goes back to his office and looks it up, he means a few minutes later during his remarks when the computer file in his brain scrolls down to the information so he can recall it.

Rick is completely generous with his time, his wealth of experience honing strategies and solid, reasoned legal argument. He makes frequent substantive contributions on our list serve, and if you are like me, you store them away in a file like little gold nuggets you may be able to use later. Rick has worked with MWELA members preparing for oral argument, he has helped on amicus briefs, and he has been a participant in the jury instruction task force.

I said I wasn’t going to do this, but I will anyway – Rick graduated from the Harvard Law School – when I was 5 years old. He began his career at the US Commission on Human Rights in 1968 and 1969.

From there he served for a few years at Marian Wright Edelman’s Washington Research Project, which later became the Children’s Defense Fund. He was in solo practice for a few years, and then 1977 to 2001, he directed the Govt Discrimination Project and then the Employment Discrimination Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He was a partner in Lieff, Cabraser for 4 years after that, and now runs his own shop, The Law Office of Richard T. Seymour.

Rick says that between 1977 and 2001, he was involved in the majority of Supreme Court cases involving employment discrimination.

Let me repeat that — between 1977 and 2001, he was involved in the majority of Supreme Court cases involving employment discrimination. He prepared briefs for parties, amicus briefs, and helped prepare for oral argument.

Rick was a member of the drafting committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights that helped write the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

Rick’s service to the Bar is selfless and virtually unparalleled. Through NELA, ATLA (now AAJ), the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, and as an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, teaching a course in employment discrimination, Rick has given so much to help shape the law and how practitioners behave in this profession.

Rick is a prolific speaker and writer. I’m sure you all have heard Rick speak at past MWELA conferences, at our brown bags, and at the NELA convention in particular. When the Supreme Court talks, we want to know what Rick thinks about how we should interpret their rulings. Every year, at the NELA convention, which takes place in June just about the time the SCt is wrapping up its term, Rick has an hour or

1 1/2 hours to speak – and every year, on the evaluation forms, members suggest that he be given an even longer block of time to speak.

Rick has co-authored TWELVE editions of the Equal Employment Law Update, which covers every issue you can imagine in employment law and evidence and procedure.

Rick was doing battle with the true forces of evil and bigotry in this country when many of us were very young or just beginning to learn our way in the legal profession. He took on discrimination in the deep South – (N.D. Miss., Delta Division – just sounds like an awful place to stand against racism!) – Mississippi and NC, SC, WVa during the years when people were beaten and imprisoned for having the wrong colored skin, for drinking from the wrong water fountain, or for taking a stand against racism. Rick is one of the true trail blazers to whom we all owe a huge debt of gratitude. I’ve said before that by comparison, we have it easy in our law practices, because as we advocate for our clients, we do not risk life or limb, or our livelihoods, just by standing with our clients against discrimination.

Rick personifies the kind of lawyer we should all aspire to be.

For that reason, he is our MWELA Lawyer of the Year.