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Cynthia Bremer, Ogletree Deakins
Cynthia Bremer, Ogletree Deakins

The POWER 30: Cynthia Bremer

Litigation is not always the best way. A process of discussion may produce a solution that suits both sides and satisfies clients sensitive to price and publicity, said Minneapolis attorney Cynthia Bremer.

As the managing partner at the Minneapolis office of Ogletree Deakins, Bremer’s practice includes work with various agencies on behalf of employers, including the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Agency process, of course, is different from litigation, but there is an investigator with whom to hash things out.

Bremer is among many employment attorneys whose practice is moving away from litigation to counseling, training and investigations — more advice work, coincidentally while people are working in disparate locations and courts have been closed because of the Coronavirus.

But the change in Bremer’s practice was happening anyway.

Bremer likes to look for a win-win resolution first. “I value the process of direct dialog with lawyers and agency investigators,” she said. She is not a defense lawyer who doesn’t litigate, but she believes in the value of talking and negotiation, noting that the most effective lawyers concede on points that should be conceded.

It’s a relationship business. Bremer also likes to work with business leaders and understand what’s important to them. The objective is to become a client’s trusted adviser and work arm-in-arm with them before they get tripped up by an employee’s claim. “They rely on me and I rely on them,” Bremer said.

Bremer believes in treating the profession as a craft, not just a job. The key elements include flexibility, joy and good relationships, she said. The “good relationship” prong includes other lawyers. “I don’t think it’s effective if my reputation is being a jerk. That has to be tempered,” she said.

Bremer’s firm was able to move quickly on COVID-19 and found that clients were hungry for defined “best practices.” But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more litigation to come and that may mean legislative action as well.

Other potential claims include failure to accommodate, virus exposure and claims from family members of employees. Diversity and inclusion disputes may ripen into suit. And there’s the big one — retaliation. “There’s always a retaliation claim lurking around corners,” Bremer said.

While managing active claims, Bremer keeps her eye on future developments. “We’re always making sure we put legislative developments front and center, including executive and regulatory agency orders.”