Katherine M. Morgan, partner at Holm & O'Hara

Katherine M. Morgan, Esq. Named Partner at Holm & O’Hara LLP

Jan 01, 2021
Practice Area:  Labor & Employee Benefits

As of January 1, 2021, Katherine M. Morgan, Esq., has been promoted to Partner in Holm & O’Hara LLP’s Labor and Employment practice. Ms. Morgan has been with the firm since 2014 and has been an integral part of our team supporting organized labor, collectively bargained benefit plans and select employers. In this brief interview, Ms. Morgan reflects on her evolution as an attorney and the practice of labor and employment law.

How did you end up going into labor and employment law?

Although I have always liked the idea of “fighting for the little guy,” I never thought I would want to do anything that involved so much litigation. Litigation (as it is often depicted in movies, books, and sometimes real life) took the “fighting” part a little too literally, and that was never appealing to me. But my 1L Legal Writing professor required everyone in the class to try out for moot court. I made the team and found that I really liked it. It wasn’t fighting so much as analyzing, preparing, crafting. Moot court really opened my eyes to options I hadn’t previously considered. Then an internship during 3L at a plaintiffs-side labor and employment firm solidified in my mind that labor and employment law was definitely the path for me.

What has surprised you the most so far about your career as an attorney?

You often hear that law school does not actually prepare you to be a lawyer. I haven’t found that to be the case for me. Perhaps it’s because I was fortunate enough to have many different practical experiences while in school. I worked for two years before going to law school, and then I had various internships during law school that ran the gamut—I interned for the NY AG’s office, a federal magistrate judge, the Brooklyn DA’s office, and a law firm. I also competed on the moot court team and wrote and edited for the international journal. I have been reminded of every single one of these experiences for one reason or another over my years of practicing law. So for me, in my daily practice I build on the same kinds of nerdy things I was doing in law school—reading, researching, writing, editing, and trying to come to terms with the nuances of the law as it applies to a particular factual situation.

What are the most important personal qualities you bring to your practice?

I would have to say thoroughness. I have a very good memory for both what I read and what I hear. I tend to recall every little thing a client or adversary tells me. So, as I work with a particular client over time, or work on a particularly knotty case, I utilize things I have learned in the past—both in general and specific to a client—and apply them to new situations. I have found it to be very helpful in bolstering arguments, too.

What don’t clients often understand about how you can help them?

The sooner you come to us, the better. People often don’t come to us until a problem is in litigation or litigation is imminent. But, if they come to us earlier, not only can we advise on the situation and perhaps help the parties work things out before litigation becomes necessary, but we can also help lay the groundwork to make a litigation more effective if it does come to that. The earlier you start, the more control you have over the unfolding of the fact patterns, which leads to a more effective litigation and (ideally) a better end result.

What trends and changes have you noticed in the practice of labor and employment law?

Some trends I have noticed delve a little more into the nuances. For example, much of our work involves representing multi-employer fringe benefit funds (which safeguard the retirement and welfare monies, etc., for the employees themselves). By law, these trust funds have the right to have an auditor review the employers’ books and records to make sure the employers are paying the proper contributions to the funds on behalf of their employees. Increasingly, employers are trying to push back on what the funds’ auditors can review. But only the employers’ books and records would have the evidence necessary to find out whether any funny business is going on. There’s long-standing precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court on this, yet we’ve been encountering more and more pushback on this in recent years.

What do you like best about working at Holm & O’Hara LLP?

Definitely the people and the atmosphere. I remember my interview with Vin O’Hara vividly, as well as the day he called me with the job offer. Vin had really talked up the collegial, collaborative atmosphere at Holm & O’Hara LLP, which resonated with me very much. Over the past 6+ years, the firm—and the labor practice in particular—has lived up to that ideal, and more. Vin and (now co-managing partner) Carol Dell have been great mentors to me, and now they are amazing colleagues—as are MaryAnne (the ERISA compliance associate) and our labor paralegals. Carol and I work together A LOT on the litigation part of the practice and I think we make a great team. I love that we can talk things out, bounce ideas off each other and collaborate to come up with the best strategy. I also love that the collaboration and collegiality extend to dealing with our clients, as well. We work with our clients every step of the way—from consultation on everyday matters, through the whole litigation process. I think such continuity really helps with the end results. It seems to me that this type of collaboration—not only within the practice, but with the clients as well—is rare in the legal world, especially at larger firms where roles and client interactions are more compartmentalized. I personally wouldn’t want it any other way. Our labor practice may be on the smaller side; however, that allows us to be more focused and attentive to our clients’ needs at all times and I think we are better for it.

We vigorously represent our business, individual, and estate clients in a wide range of legal actions, whether they are the plaintiffs or the respondents

The attorneys in our labor practice collaborate closely with our union clients, their business managers and members in a broad spectrum of areas

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