James P. Wilkins

Shareholder Emeritus | OSBA-Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law
Jim began his law career more than thirty-five 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.

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 in representation and unfair labor practice proceedings.

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 also assists employers who have federal contracts with their affirmative action obligations, including the preparation of affirmative action plans.

Jim always has relished providing proactive advice to clients to help them comply with the full range of labor and employment laws. For example, he advises employers on the development and implementation of human resource policies and strategies to enable them to achieve their broader objectives. He frequently counsels employers on employee terminations, reductions in force, and other personnel decisions to help assure those decisions don’t backfire.

In 2008, Jim completed a peer review and examination process in order to be certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law. He is one of only about 140 lawyers in the State of Ohio who have achieved this designation. Since 2008, Jim has fulfilled additional continuing legal education requirements in order to maintain his status as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law.

Other Personal Background Information and Interests

Jim and his wife, Linda, raised five kids – two sons and three daughters – who are now in their 20’s and 30’s. While they loved raising their family, they are thoroughly enjoying their status as “empty nesters.” 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. When he’s not reading about the law, Jim enjoys reading about American history, an avocation he picked as an undergrad history major.
  • 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
  • Secretary, Board of Trustees, The Village Network, 2020-Present
  • Board of Trustees, Akron Bar Association, 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, The Village Network, 2018-Present
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