James P. Wilkins

Shareholder Emeritus | OSBA-Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law

Jim began his law career more than forty years ago when labor law – dealing with unions — was in full bloom, and employment law was still emerging. As a result, he has a depth and breadth of experience in labor law that many younger lawyers won’t have because of the decline in the unionized segment of the American workforce between 1980 and 2020.  With the recent resurgence of organized labor in the U.S., Jim’s labor law experience is paying new dividends.

Throughout his career, he has devoted significant time to representing and counseling employers on union relations matters, including collective bargaining negotiations, arbitration proceedings, and maintaining non-union status. He has negotiated countless labor contracts in both the private and public sectors, both blue-collar and white-collar. He regularly represents employers before the National Labor Relations Board and Ohio’s State Employment Relations Board.

At the same time, Jim is as much an employment lawyer as he is a labor lawyer.


He has been around from the outset of such landmark legislation as the ADA and FMLA. Both have a tremendous impact on the day-to-day advice he provides to employers who look to him to keep them out of trouble. When discrimination claims arise, Jim represents employers in state and federal courts and before the EEOC and state fair employment practice agencies.

Jim provides thoughtful and proactive advice to clients to help ensure compliance with the full range of labor and employment laws.  However, beyond mere compliance, Jim helps employers to develop and implement human resource policies and strategies that help them to achieve their broader objectives. He navigates employers through employee terminations, reductions in force, and other complicated or nuanced personnel situations to minimize the risks inherent in such decisions.

Jim also has deep experience in helping federal contractors fulfill their affirmative action obligations, including the preparation of annual affirmative action plans.

Since 2008, Jim has been certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law. He is one of roughly 110 lawyers in the State of Ohio who have achieved this designation. Jim has continuously fulfilled the additional continuing legal education requirements necessary to maintain his status as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law.

Jim has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America since 2019 for Labor Law, Employment Law, and Labor and Employment Litigation.  He has also been designated as a SuperLawyer for a decade.

Other Personal Background Information and Interests

Jim’s “Shareholder Emeritus” title at K|W|W means that effective in 2024, he has relinquished his role as Managing Shareholder to devote all of his professional time to serving clients and mentoring K|W|W’s younger lawyers.  Jim devotes his personal time to his wife, Linda, five grown kids, and five growing grandkids. Jim has been a distance runner for more than 40 years, having run a dozen marathons. He now finds contentment in shorter distances and a slower pace, and he has absolutely no plans to run another marathon.  For the last twenty years, he’s translated his love of running into coaching his church’s CYO cross country team and trying – with mixed results – not to brag about the championships those teams have won.

  • The College of Wooster, B.A., with honors, 1979
  • The National Law Center, George Washington University, J.D., with honors,1983
Bar Admissions
  • Supreme Court of Ohio
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Professional Activities and Recognition
  • Certified as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law by the Ohio State Bar Association
  • AV Preeminent peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell legal directory
  • Rated by SuperLawyers, 2015-2024
  • Rated by Best Lawyers, 2019-2024
  • Member, Akron Bar Association and its Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Vice-Chair, Akron Bar Association and its Labor and Employment Law Section, 2011-2012
  • Chair, Akron Bar Association and its Labor and Employment Law Section, 2012-2013
  • Member, Ohio State Bar Association and its Labor and Employment Law Section
  • Member, Labor and Employment Law Section Council, 2010-2016
Publications and Presentations
  • Labor & Employment Issues in the Fire Service, State Auditor’s Local Government Conference, March 2019
  • Creating and Maintaining a Professional, Harassment-Free Workplace, O’Neill Group Lunch & Learn Workshop Series, January 2018
  • Peace, Love and Harmony Even in a Collective Bargaining Environment, Ohio SHRM Conference, September 2017
  • Handling Essential Municipal Employment Concerns, paper and presentation to National Business Institute CLE Seminar, February 2017
  • FLSA “White Collar” Exemptions, Ohio SHRM Conference, CLE Presentation, September 2015
  • Wage & Hour Law, CLE Presentation, December 2012
  • EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Arrest Records, CLE Presentation, September 2012
Civic/Charitable Activities and Associations
  • Akron Bar Association Diversity Equity & Inclusion Taskforce, 2023-Present
  • Board of Trustees, The Village Network, 2020-Present
  • Leadership Akron Alumni Association, 1993-Present
  • Volunteer CYO Coach, 1993-Present
  • Board of Trustees, CYO and Community Services, 2003-2010
  • Chair of Board of Trustees, CYO and Community Services, 2008-2009
  • Board of Trustees, Akron Bar Association, 2020-2023