Jennifer Trulock Quoted in Texas Lawbook on Recent Career Move and Employment Law Trends

Texas Lawbook

Media Mention

Bradley partner Jennifer Trulock discussed her move to the firm in a Q&A with The Texas Lawbook and provided her thoughts on recent employment law trends.

What attracted you to Bradley? 

They have a really vibrant Dallas office and they are really growing and expanding here in Texas. And that was a big part of what attracted me to Bradley. I’ve met some of the people and it just seemed like a great place to land. 

What are some of the key lessons that you learned from your more than two decades at Baker Botts?

I joined after I had spent four years at a boutique firm and it’s unbelievable the number of things that I learned (at Baker Botts). Just a really amazing degree of professionalism, thinking through all the angles, working together cross-department and cross-office. It was a fantastic experience.

Why did you decide it was time to leave Baker Botts? 

So my practice area is labor and employment and it is rate-sensitive. And I have a lot more leeway at Bradley with the rates that I can charge. And at Baker Botts, my rate was just going up and up. So it was hard to maintain clients like that.

Why did you want to go from practice chair to this position that is not chairing a practice, if it’s different from your previous answer? 

I’m excited to be at Bradley and have the chance to just focus on client work, to be honest. That’s really appealing for me. I’m just looking forward to working with the folks here and across all of the offices to help build out the Texas employment law group. So I think it’s actually a really great opportunity for me.

What kind of trends are you seeing in employment law?

Employment law is really interesting because this is an election year and so everyone is trying to read the tea leaves, like what will happen if the administration changes? What will happen if it doesn’t change and feels like it has a mandate to continue with more? And so it’s just been incredibly fascinating. I do a lot with noncompetes. And so we’re all waiting for the rules to come out from the FTC. They had issued a proposed rule last year essentially, you know, prohibiting almost all noncompetes. And so I’m really curious to see what that rule is going to morph into after all the comments. That’s a big trend, reducing the number of noncompetes. We also see a lot of retaliation claims. And then there’s even more and more laws that deal with what happens if someone is sexually harassed at work. (For instance), what can employers ask them to keep confidential? What kind of confidentiality and nondisparagement clauses can you have in contracts? So it’s been incredibly interesting to kind of see where parts of the country have gone. And other parts have sort of stayed with the traditional employers and employees can agree to anything.

Did you see much change in Texas with the current administration? 

So in Texas, if you look at sexual harassment law, Texas previously just followed federal law, which only employers with a certain number of employees are subject to Title VII for the federal law. And that was the same for the state law against sex discrimination/sexual harassment. Texas, a couple of years ago, said you only need one employee to be liable for sexual harassment, and also said that managers or supervisors and individuals who harassed can be held personally liable. So that was a big change for Texas. For the most part, Texas has stayed kind of right along where the federal government is. 

Do you have a prediction for where we’ll be if it’s a Biden win or if it’s a Trump win? Are there any big trends that you predict we’ll see?

Well, if it’s a Trump win, I think we’ll see something similar to what we saw before, which is rolling back of the more employee-friendly regulation and executive orders. And if it’s a Biden win, I think that the administration will be more empowered to continue on the trend of being very pro-union and things like that.

Do you think that the legal market is keeping up with the prevalence of unions in Texas?

There’s an up-and-coming group who handle it, who are younger, and then you have the people who have handled it forever. And in Texas, it’s mostly public employee unions, like … teachers unions. … But the Starbucks down the street from me was unionized. So it is certainly happening here. I do think that it’s less prevalent here than it is in other states. But I definitely have been seeing it. And I do think that we probably don’t have as many lawyers who are negotiating collective bargaining agreements as a rule of specialty, but everyone has to be aware of the National Labor Relations Board because they have employee handbook policies and, you know, other things like that, that nonunion employers are also subject to, so we all have to have good knowledge of the National Labor Relations Act. Like I said, there’s a group who are probably the next generation, they will handle union issues and elections and negotiations. But for a while we really didn’t have much of that here. 

Do you have any advice for younger lawyers? 

One piece of advice is to kind of make sure that you’re playing the long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And so, manage your career but develop deep knowledge in the areas where you practice, because becoming a subject matter expert – people come to recognize that and appreciate it.

How did you pick labor and employment law?

It’s funny because I started at a boutique where I did just any kind of commercial litigation, and I realized that I love issues that involve people. And so when I went to Baker Botts, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do contracts. I want to deal with people issues.’ And what’s so funny is, by the time I was like, halfway through my time there, I was spending so much time writing employment agreements and separation agreements. And I realized I actually love writing contracts. And I still do. Like the biggest compliment someone ever gave me was – he told me I was a beautiful drafter, which I thought was the nicest thing.

Is there anything else I didn’t ask you about that you think I should include in this Q&A?

I’m really excited to be here at Bradley. I think it’s just a really great office and a great atmosphere. Every single person that I have talked to so far, whether it’s computer training or client relations or legal assistance, every single person has said, ‘Welcome to Bradley, we’re so glad you’re here,’ and it just is really, really amazing.

The full Q&A, “Labor and Employment Attorney Jennifer Trulock Discusses Recent Career Move and Employment Law Trends,” was published by The Texas Lawbook on February 21, 2024.