Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Louis P. DiLorenzo
November 1, 2020
It could be said Lou DiLorenzo’s more than 40-year career as a labor and employment attorney began with an unsuccessful workers’ strike the year he was born.
His father, Luigi, an Italian immigrant who worked the second shift in a chemical factory, learned a valuable lesson from that failed six-month-long walkout: Better to negotiate than strike. So he ran for chief steward for the U.S. Steelworkers Union on that platform and he and the union went on to conduct prep sessions for negotiations and arbitrations at the family dining room table, where Lou’s mother, also from Italy, served up homemade pasta dinners.
Out of sight but not earshot, young Lou listened as union lawyers and union business representatives deliberated, strategized, prepared witnesses and drafted bargaining proposals.
“The process was fascinating to me and still is,” Lou says now. “It’s all about people, their problems and human nature.”
One of Luigi’s frequent sparring partners at the negotiating table was Robert W. Kopp, one of the giants of Bond’s labor department and its leader for many years. Despite their adversarial positions, the two men became friends, and Kopp later helped young Lou win a summer clerkship at the firm in 1975. He never left. Oh and, by the way, remember his dad’s chemical plant? It’s owned by a German parent company whose German labor lawyer is a friend of Lou’s and recommended him as counsel to the plant without knowing there was a connection.
During his 45 years at Bond, Lou eventually replaced Kopp as chair of the labor and employment department and introduced a host of innovations, including client seminars to help clients stay up to date and compliant with developments in the law and an award-winning blog.
“I find tremendous satisfaction from problem-solving,” says Lou, now the managing member of the firm’s New York City office. “I have always enjoyed planning and strategizing. I attended West Point for two years and was instantly attracted to the military strategy aspect of that education. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than developing a strategy to solve a problem or achieve a goal and then successfully seeing it executed.”
An athlete all his life, including boxing and lettering in baseball at West Point, Lou believes the thrill of winning – and the possibility of losing – is what attracted him to the labor and employment arena.
“Dealing with the unexpected and never being sure of the outcome, whether you’re the favorite or the underdog, keeps it thrilling,” Lou says.
He and Rob LaBerge were the first labor attorneys in the firm to do a jury trial, and Lou has since tried more than 12 jury cases to verdict in federal courts in New York. Lou also serves several insurance companies (e.g., AIG and Chubb) in employment litigation matters. From 2002 to 2004, he served as general counsel and secretary to Agway, Inc., a Fortune 500 Company (while maintaining his practice). His reputation has led to work well beyond the confines of New York. A few years ago he was retained by the governor of Maine to negotiate labor contracts covering more than 55,000 state employees. He just finished being part of the national team that defended McDonald’s franchisees in a case brought against them by the National Labor Relations Board, the largest case that the NLRB has ever brought against an employer.
A prolific speaker and writer, Lou has penned books and dozens of journal articles, including one he co-authored with John Gaal (“Horse-Shedding the Witness: When Does Witness Preparation Cross the Line?”), which won a 2020 Burton Award for outstanding legal writing.
It’s how he continues to learn.
“I constantly write articles, speak on various topics, attend CLE opportunities inside and outside my firm, read and stay current,” Lou said. “If we pay attention, we learn something during every case, from clients, adversaries, arbitrators, mediators and judges.”
His most cherished accomplishment? The 47 years he’s been married to his high school sweetheart. The couple has three children (“all with college and advanced degrees,” Lou is quick to point out) and nine grandchildren ranging in age from 5 months to 16 years.