Scheinman Advisory Board Spotlight: Jay Waks
Name: Jay W. Waks
Current professional position:
Retired Partner of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (1972-2015) and Senior Executive Vice President & General Counsel of The American Kennel Club, Inc. (2016-2020); member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution; Board of Directors of Legal Momentum, advancing the legal rights of women and girls; Cornell ILR’s Advisory Board of the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution; Cornell ILR’s Advisory Council (Emeritus member); Cornell Law School’s Advisory Council; Cornell University Council; and a host of other Cornell alumni activities and student mentoring.
Cornell University – ILR, B.S. 1968; Cornell Law School – J.D. 1971.
I am a Retired Partner of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, having spent the initial 43 years of my professional career at Kaye Scholer and the past 5 years as General Counsel of The American Kennel Club, Inc. which had been a client for 19 years prior to my law firm retirement under its Partnership Agreement. Judicial clerkship for United States District Judge Inzer Bass Wyatt, between graduating Cornell Law in 1971 and joining Kaye Scholer in 1972. At Kaye Scholer, I chaired the national Employment & Labor Law practice for 30 years and its Alternative Dispute Resolution practice and was a member of the Litigation, International and Asian practice groups. I am respected for my successes in high-profile public sector cases and for my defense of U.S. and international companies in employment and labor cases, as well as for my work with clients in the application of workplace dispute resolution programs and on internal workplace investigations. While in private practice, I also mediated and arbitrated individual executive employment disputes and class and collective actions involving private parties and governmental authorities. I have been ranked among the top ten employment lawyers in New York (Chambers USA) and similarly by other leading peer-rating publications over the years.
Most memorable professional experience:
A standout is the gratification of winning a string of hard-fought interest arbitrations that together improved salaries and benefits by well in excess of $3-4 billion, including those in which Professors Katz and Lipsky served as my expert witnesses along with a number of retired and active government specialists.
The biggest challenges now and ahead for mediation and arbitration:
Successfully adapting neutral processes to resolve (1) novel situations arising out of crises (for example, the current coronavirus pandemic), such as by remotely engaging in mediations and arbitrations, and (2) finding ways to make innovative dispute resolution de rigueur such as in disputes between industrial sectors and federal, state and local governments, political disputes, environmental disputes, mass tort actions and the like, and in fostering the utility of resolving a sampling of cases through mediation and/or arbitration so that they become the basis for settling the larger numbers of similar cases in large collective and class actions.
How has the pandemic changed your work:
Working remotely during the pandemic has lengthened considerably my working hours despite my saving a couple of hours of commuting time to and from Manhattan and the suburbs. The substance and mix of my work is largely the same, just a lot more of it.
What is your motivation to be involved with the Scheinman Institute:
My entire professional and pro bono career has focused on the fair resolution of disputes, especially those that avoid court litigation, in order to permit business and personal interests to flourish productively and working relationships to be mended.
Personal experience working with the Scheinman Institute and/or ILR:
I first was selected for the inaugural Board of the Scheinman Institute and have worked on broadening its mission to represent the extent of its resources. Being on the Scheinman Board as well as ILR’s Advisory Council has been rewarding in being able to peek under the academic tent and discuss important educational and professional matters with students, faculty and staff.
Advice to students in the conflict resolution field:
Successful conflict resolution, as a neutral or as an advocate, requires precision knowledge of subject-matter in order to address the specific problems for resolution, as well as incredibly complex skills of dedication, commitment, patience, diplomacy and understanding of the limits of the parties. Always, always, be as prepared as possible in the subject matter at hand and remember that you can never be over-prepared. Never, never, take for granted the subject matter or those involved in your conflict. Always keep yourself ahead of the game by finding your professional niche in conflict resolution and never letting go. Finally, current events crop up in virtually every matter with which you may be involved. This means that you must immerse yourself in current events, at the international, national and local levels and in the business sectors in which you plan to operate.