Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Colin M. Leonard
May 1, 2023
As the youngest child of a high school English teacher who also led the local teachers’ union, Colin Leonard had plenty of career inspiration right at home where he grew up in Connecticut.
Like his four older siblings, he developed an affinity for reading and writing and eventually majored in English in college. But Colin also was inspired by his dad’s decision to attend law school at night – partly to become a better contract negotiator for the union, but also for the intellectual challenge. Mr. Leonard never ended up practicing law; he just wanted to learn.
“I was 12 when my dad graduated law school, so it was definitely a formative period of my life,” Colin says. “I think the idea of going to law school purely for the love of learning definitely left an impression. Even if you didn’t end up practicing law, you could pursue politics or business or anything really. It seemed to be an incredible opportunity.”
So after he graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in English, Colin returned home to attend the University of Connecticut School of Law. He was joined by his future wife, Kadie, a Syracuse native he met as an undergrad and who was pursuing her own graduate studies in psychology at UCONN. The couple settled in West Hartford, where their first child was born and Colin began practicing in employment and municipal law. Later, the family moved to New York to be closer to Kadie's family. Colin joined Bond’s labor and employment group in Syracuse, where he's remained for more than 19 years. Kadie, meanwhile, works as a school psychologist in a suburban school district.
Colin’s practice includes traditional labor-related work, including collective bargaining, labor arbitrations and agency matters before the National Labor Relations Board and Public Employment Relations Board. He also helps employers manage downsizing situations and represents them in claims brought by unions and employees asserting violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which regulates how plant closings and mass layoffs are handled.
As a management-side labor and employment attorney, Colin now sits on the opposite side of the bargaining table from where his dad used to be. A weird twist, to be sure. But he wouldn’t change a thing.
“Labor is one of those practices that impacts or touches almost everyone’s lives. Everyone has a job, a family to raise,” Colin says. “And I just really enjoy helping people understand the rules of the road and be able to do the best things possible to expand their business or make their institution as vibrant and successful as possible.”
When he’s not advocating for his clients, serving as deputy managing manager of the Syracuse office or assisting as a deputy general counsel for the firm, Colin likes to unwind by tending to his vegetable garden and spending time on Cazenovia Lake with his wife and three daughters, a sophomore at Denison College in Ohio and twins who are high school seniors.
“We’ve tried to raise our kids in a way that values the ability to communicate about current events and express their thoughts and ideas,” he says. Much like his own dad, who encouraged Colin and his siblings to be engaged and discuss current events around the dinner table.
It isn’t always easy, in this age of ever-present mobile phones.
“It’s a work in progress,” he says with a laugh.