4 min read September 2022 — Invest: spoke with Jaime Tuite, shareholder at law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC in Pittsburgh, about the issues her firm’s clients are facing in terms of attracting and retaining talent. Tuite also discussed the impact of the Dobbs decision, shifts in the workplace and legislation on her radar.
What have been some key milestones for the firm over the last year?
The continued great service to our clients, growth of the firm, and a continued focus on getting people back into the office to collaborate are some major milestones. We had a great 2021, and we are continuing that trend. We have had several new hires, and we are excited about expanding our ability to provide services to our clients. One of the most recent hires is Nathan Clark, joining our Real Estate Section, former Chief Legal Officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. As a firm, one bright spot has been new in-person events with clients. We have focused on a number of symposiums for our life sciences and healthcare industry groups and other events in the office. We, as a firm, have also been fortunate to receive many accolades. One of the most recent was Buchanan being ranked the No. 1 Lobbying Firm in Pennsylvania by City & State PA.
What is going on in the workforce from your viewpoint, and what are the primary challenges in the post-COVID legal landscape?
It is such an interesting time. Right now, employers in every industry that we serve are facing an issue with attracting and retaining talent. For example, we have seen statistics that the majority of healthcare workers have changed jobs in the past year. Being able to retain employees, particularly those who take a long time to hire and train is quite a challenge. We don’t know whether there will be a pendulum shift, but for right now employers are focused on paying employees consistent with the market data, making sure they feel valued, and taking additional measures for recruitment and retention. They also are using and enforcing non-competes and non-solicit agreements with the goal to protect their trade secrets, confidential information and goodwill. As a result of these workplace challenges, we are working with our clients to review compensation plans, other employment agreements, and other third-party arrangements with involvement also from our very active and busy Antitrust Section.
Have you experienced a shift in demand for your services, and what does that indicate about the market?
We are busy on all of our different fronts, but demand for information pertaining to COVID has declined. With the loosening of CDC regulation, we are doing less with mandatory vaccination policies and other related issues. However, the need to evaluate cybersecurity, travel, and remote work policies, which are byproducts of the pandemic, is a focus right now. It feels busier than last year, but it’s a different kind of busy. There was (and likely remains) a backlog of cases not tried during the height of the pandemic. However, there is not the same emergency with the CDC introducing new guidelines that had a more dramatic impact on the workplace. We are continuing to see more consolidation, resulting in a number of deals that impact our corporate and healthcare sections. This trend is a continuing one. Buchanan lawyers have led more than 40 major healthcare merger and acquisition transactions valued at $20 billion over the past few years.
Is there any legislation or policy on your radar that may impact your business?
It is very interesting just to see the evolution of many recent decisions. The Dobbs decision on abortion that overturned Roe v. Wade has impacted a number of industries, including healthcare and insurance industries, and other employers that want to provide alternatives for employees for related travel costs. It is a very political matter, so employers are sensitive to the fact that there are different views. As an employment attorney who focuses on diversity and inclusion in workplace conduct training, it is important to be sensitive to different points of view because we don’t want to isolate anyone. Some industries are struggling more with the uncertainties from the decision, but there will be more legislation that will evolve from that decision. The question of precedent is something we are all thinking through at this point, and the interplay between the courts and the lawmakers is front and center. We are at a critical juncture where there is much pending legislation, and the questions of its enforceability are not easy ones.
In Pennsylvania, one piece of legislation that will have an important impact on businesses is the reduction of the corporate net income tax. Our Pennsylvania state government relations group played an integral role in pushing this through Harrisburg, and every business in the Commonwealth will benefit from this change.
As another example of the recent changes in law, in January 2022, the Supreme Court decided NFIB v. OSHA and Biden v. Missouri. The impact was that COVID-19 vaccination requirements are permitted for healthcare workers when their employers receive certain federal funds. However, the COVID-19 vaccination requirements may not be government mandated for employers with more than 100 employees. My takeaway is that while there is much proposed legislation that may impact businesses, there is a great degree of overall unpredictability.
What are your expectations for the legal sector in Pittsburgh over the next several years?
Pittsburgh remains a positive place. We have great partnerships and business leaders here who are coming together to work toward making it a better community. The overall benefits for the business community positively impact not just our clients but also the overall legal community. One example is the recent win in the award to the Pittsburgh region of the competitive federal grant of around $63 million dollars to help businesses invest in technology. There are also efforts to attract new employers. With these types of regional wins, my expectation is that the legal sector in Pittsburgh will continue to grow and thrive.
Additionally, with more activity taking place, Pittsburgh is able to showcase its community with events, such as the Global Clean Energy Action Forum that took place in Pittsburgh. These events help to increase the sense of community and to promote the region, including many of our valued energy clients. All of this coordinated activity helps ensure that Pittsburgh remains in a great position for expanding business, which is exciting. It will no doubt positively affect the firm and the legal market.
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