Cornell University

April 8 2010

Groat Winner

Berke-Weiss '71 receiving award in New York

Laurie Berke-Weiss '71, who will be honored April 20 with the Groat Award, was one of only 15 "girls" in her ILR class.

"The real challenge" though, she said in an interview this week, "was the rigor of the work."

In addition to learning "the tools to solve problems," students at ILR were immersed in the value of respect and civility for one another, Berke-Weiss said.

"The alumni of the school stand as a model for labor relations and for society," she said.

A Fordham Law School graduate and a founding member of Berke-Weiss & Pechman LLP with fellow ILRie Louis Pechman '79, she handles employment law cases for both individuals and management.

Berke-Weiss particularly enjoys discrimination law and trade secret protection cases.

After graduating from ILR, Berke-Weiss sold classified advertising for the London Evening Standard newspaper for two years.

Then came a job helping the City University of New York negotiate its faculty contract, then a master's degree in industrial and labor relations from Rutgers University.

Berke-Weiss went to work after that as a research associate for ILR's Extension Division in New York, where she got to know Associate Dean of Extension Lois Gray, now ILR's Jean McKelvey/Alice Grant Professor of Labor Management Relations Emerita.

"Lois's door was definitely open. She was and is a remarkable role model -- so productive in her work," said Berke-Weiss, former president of the ILR Alumni Association and a member of the ILR Advisory Council, Cornell University Council and President's Council of Cornell Women.

Active with the Cornell Alumnae Network, she meets with women undergraduates.

Her advice to them: "Take advantage of opportunities, don't be inflexible" and realize the path to a goal can sometimes be "roundabout."

Berke-Weiss will be honored for her contributions to ILR and Cornell and for her professional success by the ILR School April 20 at The Pierre in Manhattan.

Seth Harris '83 will also receive the Groat Award at the event and Seth "Yossi" Siegel '74, '78 will receive the Alpern Award.