John Bauer leads the Long Island office of Littler Mendelson, the prestigious law firm that's now, with over 900 lawyers and 55 offices, by far the largest firm in the nation representing employers in workplace matters. And while his role in recent years has been central to the Long Island office's growth, Bauer's personal story - a 25-year steady climb through the ranks of labor and modern employment law - is more notable: As a Long Island native he's an avowed "South Shore guy" who worked his way through college. His family lived a solidly middle class life, back when blue-collar workers could claim a meaningful piece of the nation's economic pie. His father was an avid tennis player and the family - Bauer has four siblings -- skied regularly in Vermont. The social changes and contrasts extend to Bauer's work: He began in law school by focusing on old-style labor-relations law and evolved into modern employment law, which exploded in the 80s with the passage of worker-friendly statutes and regulations. Thus Bauer brings a broad perspective - of both hometown New York and of his dynamic profession. Most of all, though, Bauer earned everything he got: "There was no silver spoon for me," he says. Bauer spent a year as a business major at SUNY Albany, then returned to Long Island and worked in a nursing home, where he got his first taste of labor relations and disputes as a young unionized worker. He enrolled at Stony Brook and excelled in political science, with an eye on law school. When Bauer went on to Albany Law School, with its rich history training labor lawyers, "I knew I was in the right place." He won "the ultimate law-student competition" becoming a law-review editor. Summer before third year, Bauer trekked down to Washington seeking an internship at the National Labor Relations Board, where he was hired and thus launched his career as a labor lawyer.
Upon graduating in 1986 Bauer joined a Manhattan labor and employment-law boutique firm, immersing himself in major institutional litigation involving hospitals, hotel chains and trucking companies, among others. Returning to Long Island in 1989, he joined Rains & Pogrebin in Mineola, the most influential employer-focused firm based on Long Island at the time. He was named a partner there in 1994. Over the next decade Bauer established himself as one of Nassau and Suffolk's top attorneys representing employers, at a time when employment law was truly taking off. When the Rains firm dissolved in 2004, Bauer was quickly recruited to launch a Melville office for Newark-based Grotta Glassman. Barely two years later, amid the free-for-all for top employment lawyers, Bauer was lured by Littler to build the firm's Long Island practice.
Today Littler's Melville, NY, office has grown to ten lawyers, with further growth on the horizon. Bauer's practice remains broad-based: Defense of wage-and-hour claims, class action litigation, discrimination and harassment claims, or consulting on executive issues such as restrictive covenants and noncompete clauses. He also spends a significant portion of his time on traditional labor law matters involving management/union relations and arbitrations. Bauer too speaks widely at seminars to employer and business groups. Bauer continues to play tennis and ski (an older brother today owns and runs The Summit Lodge, Killington, VT). He and his wife have three teen-age children; they live in Suffolk County on Long Island's South Shore.