Tulane Law School welcomed 75 students enrolled in its online Masters of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law (MJ-LEL) to campus for its first “Immersion Weekend“ on July 28-29.
The degree program was launched in 2016 and is designed to give Human Resources professionals a solid grounding in the legal regulatory environment that increasingly governs their field. Although coursework for the degree is offered online, students are invited to gather in New Orleans annually for an intensive weekend of in-person instruction and networking.
After a welcoming reception Friday night at New Orleans’ iconic Columns Hotel, students began the academic program on Saturday with a keynote lecture by Rod West (L ’93), utilities president for Entergy Corporation.
West, who began his career practicing labor and employment law before moving to lead Entergy’s business and utilities operations, encouraged students to view the role of Human Resources professionals from a strategic rather than a transactional perspective, and to understand the vital role they play in developing talent to meet the future needs of the enterprises they serve. He also emphasized the importance of forecasting the ways in which rapid technological advances are reshaping work force needs and the ways in which HR professionals can help employees to anticipate and adapt their contributions to keep pace.
Additional lectures and panel discussions during the Immersion Weekend focused on best practices in documentation of employment decisions to minimize litigation risks, new developments in sexual harassment law, and emerging regulatory changes in the Trump Administration.
“The Immersion Weekend program was a tremendous success,“ said Professor Joel Friedman, Director of the MJ-LEL program. “Rod West’s keynote address was outstanding, as were the presentations by faculty and distinguished guests.“
Students in Tulane’s MJ-LEL program come from across the United States and a diverse set of professional backgrounds. They include veteran leaders of HR operations in multinational and mid-sized corporations, labor union officials, small business owners and managers, municipal executives, as well as those seeking to enter or advance in the HR field.
“The Immersion Weekend experience surpassed my expectations,” said Amanda Haddaway of Frederick, MD, the managing director and lead consultant for HR Answerbox. “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting my classmates and instructors in person, as well as students from other cohorts. The curriculum of the weekend and the program as a whole have already helped me to advise my clients with even greater knowledge of labor and employment law issues.”
“HR professionals were looking for something that spoke to us and our field from a legal basis, this program is just that,” said William Smith, the director of Human Resources at a Seattle nonprofit that helps single homeless adults find permanent housing. “This weekend was an absolute success and I appreciated the level of thought that was put into making it a great educational experience.”
“It’s exciting to see the impact of this program in the lives of our students,“ said Tulane Law School dean David Meyer. “Students shared how this program has reshaped their understanding of their professional roles and equipped them with knowledge and tools that they are able to put to immediate use in their careers.“
“We see professional education of this sort – sharing the expertise of our faculty with non-lawyer professionals who come into regular contact with the law – as an important extension of the traditional law school mission,“ Meyer said.
Students in Tulane’s MJ-LEL degree program can begin their studies in any one of three starts each year, in January, May, and September, and typically complete the degree requirements in two years. More information about the program can be found at https://employment.law.tulane.edu/.