Esther Lander, DOJ Civil Rights Division Employment Litigation Section Official, Joins Akin Gump

(Washington, D.C.) – Esther G. Lander, formerly the principal deputy chief of the Employment Litigation section within the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), has joined Akin Gump as a partner in its labor and employment practice in Washington. Ms. Lander previously worked at the firm as an associate from 1997-2002 and again from 2004-2006, during which time she was promoted to counsel.

While at the Justice Department, Ms. Lander served as the Employment Litigation section chief’s senior management advisor and, in that role, directed a nationwide litigation program.  Ms. Lander also served as acting employment counsel for the Civil Rights Division in 2012,  advising the assistant attorney general on sensitive personnel matters and handling select discrimination claims asserted against the Civil Rights Division and the entire department.

Ms. Lander has extensive first-chair litigation experience with complex employment discrimination matters arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). While at DOJ, she led trial teams on several complex cases likely to establish far-reaching precedents in the civil rights field, including U.S. v New York City Board of Education and U.S. v. New Jersey, Title VII adverse impact testing cases, and Woodall, et al. v. American Airlines, a USERRA class case.

“Akin Gump’s labor and employment practice has repeatedly been recognized as one of the premier practices in the country,” said Akin Gump chairperson Kim Koopersmith. “Having Esther back at the firm further strengthens our standing in an area of the law that is critically important to employers of all size. I am delighted to welcome Esther upon her return to Akin Gump.”

Added Bob Lian, head of Akin Gump’s labor and employment practice, “Esther is a great lawyer, and we are very happy to have her back. I know our clients, particularly those facing discrimination claims, will benefit from her counsel and experience gained from years of public service. She will be a great addition to our team.”

“I am very excited to be returning to Akin Gump where I began my legal career,” said Ms. Lander. “My experience on both sides of complex employment discrimination suits provides me with terrific perspective on these matters, and I am eager to be back in private practice applying my skills on behalf of the firm’s clients.”

About Esther G. Lander

Ms. Lander spent eight years at the Department of Justice, starting as a senior trial attorney. In addition to her own litigation work, she supervised investigations and litigation work of other employees, serving as direct supervisor for a team of trial attorneys. She also coordinated the department’s nationwide USERRA enforcement program, which requires that employers return individuals to their civilian jobs following military service. USERRA also protects servicemembers from discrimination in the workplace based on their military service or affiliation.

From 2002-2004, Ms. Lander was assistant general counsel at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine.

Ms. Lander is a frequent author and speaker on labor and employment law topics, particularly EEO-related issues. She was the recipient of several awards and recognitions during her tenure at DOJ, including the Assistant Attorney General Distinguished Service Award in 2012 and the Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in 2009.

She received a J.D., summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Temple University.

About Akin Gump’s Labor and Employment Practice

Akin Gump’s labor and employment attorneys provide advice and representation to employers regarding all aspects of employment law and labor relations, handling cutting-edge issues in complex and class action wage-hour and EEO litigation; high-stakes investigations and counseling matters; and traditional matters such as collective bargaining, union corporate campaigns and representation of management in grievance arbitrations and litigation of contract disputes. The firm has obtained groundbreaking victories in these areas with cases that are frequently cited as standard-setting by courts, government administrators and other lawyers.

Led by Donald Livingston, a former general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Akin Gump’s employment/EEOC advocacy practice focuses on class litigation and significant EEOC “pattern or practice” investigations across the full spectrum of discrimination claims. Over the years, these have involved various industries, ranging from retail and railroads to utilities and insurance.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 850 attorneys in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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