Labor and employment law veteran, trusted adviser and proven advocate Don Lawless consistently delivers responsive, focused advice, while leveraging each client's workforce potential and business objectives.
Don focuses his practice in the pharmaceutical and health, food processing, manufacturing, higher education and service industries. His traditional labor experience is extensive and includes contract negotiation, grievance arbitration and defense of unfair labor practice charges, and union avoidance.
Don advises on workforce restructurings and works with clients on a broad range of civil rights compliance and defense, with particular emphasis on ADA compliance, facility and program access under Titles II and III of the ADA, FMLA compliance, and employment-related contracts and policies. He also represents multinational auto parts, major global brands and other manufacturers in OSHA-related compliance and appeals.
As vice chair of the firm’s Higher Education practice group, a significant portion of Don’ practice is devoted to representing college and university clients in labor and employment matters and student affairs, athletic program compliance, internal investigations, tenure denial disputes, and facility and program accessibility issues. Don also successfully defends civil rights matters, including many discreet faculty and student OCR complaints of discrimination typically related to disability accommodation.
Don offers honed abilities in designing and executing a wide variety of workplace investigations. He consistently executes workplace investigations that are comprehensive and complete, ascertaining all the evidence available and rendering sound, balanced conclusions that are ultimately clear and justifiable.
Don is a frequent speaker to a variety of organizations on legal developments and related strategies, such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Public Employer Labor Relations Association, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and numerous industry-specific organizations.
Professional and Community Involvement
Co-author, Chambers Global Practice Guide - USA Regional Employment (Michigan)
Board member, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 2016 to present
Former chair, Michigan Chamber of Commerce Health and Human Resource Committee, 2012-2017
Member, American Employment Law Council
Member, National Association of College and University Attorneys
Member, Lakeshore Advantage
Co-founder, West Michigan Works
Former chair and board member, Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid), 2004-2012
Former second ward commissioner, East Grand Rapids, 1997-2005
Former chair, East Grand Rapids Planning Commission, 2007-2014
Grand Rapids Business Journal's Notable West Michigan Lawyers, 2023
The Best Lawyers in America, 2008-2024
Chambers USA, Michigan, 2017-2023
Grand Rapids Magazine Top Lawyers, 2023
Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent