#SHRM19 Interview with Attorney James P. Reidy


Attorney James. P “Jim” Reidy is a Shareholder and at the regional (New England) law firm Sheehan Phinney Manchester, NH. He practices in the areas of management side labor and employment law with an emphasis on assisting employers in effectively avoiding, or defending against, employment disputes. He represents organizations ranging from multinational corporations, to closely-held, family-owned businesses, to not-for-profit entities and public sector employers.

Jim regularly writes articles and presents seminars on a wide range of employment law topics. He has been a workplace law resource for several media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, SHRM and NPR as well as other regional publications. Jim is also the moderator of NHLABORNET, the popular Internet discussion group for human resource professionals in New England.

Full disclosure: I’ve known Jim Reidy for years (too many to count). I’ve also seen him present at seminars and workshops many times, including several times at SHRM. He’s always an audience favorite. He has some of the most engaging, informative, practical and interactive presentations I’ve ever seen. (And they almost always involve prizes!) While his rooms are generally full to capacity, I wanted to interview him in order to give those SHRM19 attendees a chance to learn a bit about him before fighting to get into one of his sessions.

Jim, you have to be one of SHRM's favorite speakers! You have spoken at SHRM Annual Conference and Expositions (2019) for several years, the legislative conference, and others. What's your secret to continuing to engage audiences?

Pick a relevant topic. Create a catchy tagline to attract seminar attendees. Make presentation practical ( avoiding legalese). Inject humor when appropriate and make the presentation interactive.

You have two topics this year. The first is a hot button topic in HR circles, and you have a super interesting title: - When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Legal Issues and Hiring Strategies in Era of Legalized Marijuana. You've also developed a reputation as the go-to expert on drugs in the workplace. What's the biggest misconception about legalized marijuana and work?

There are a few misconceptions regarding legalized marijuana. The most prevalent misconceptions are: If it is legal under state law employers can’t test or discipline employees; marijuana must be accommodated under the ADAAA; and drug ( marijuana) testing at the pre-employment and post-accident stages should be abandoned.

Your next session is - Employer's Guide to Workplace Flexibility, Compliance with State Leave Laws, and Avoiding Related Claims. Can we expect one of your signature fun game-style sessions with prizes?

Absolutely! That is one way I keep the audience engaged. Chocolate works wonders.

You are always watching legal developments locally and nationally. Aside from your two topics, what should be keeping HR professionals up at night?

Avoid watching cable news: that will give anyone heartburn or nightmares. In addition: The pressure to stay in compliance with ever-changing laws and regulations, to reduce the risk of employee lawsuits and with all of that to recruit and retain talent.

Now for something fun. What is your favorite movie, binge TV show, 80s song and one of your not-work-related talents?

I have so many favorite movies and as my wife says I “ watch them over and over again ( and can often recite the lines)!” Young Frankenstein; Pulp Fiction; Jaws; It’s a Wonderful Life; Saving Private Ryan; Cool Hand Luke; Whiplash; Remember the Titans; and La La Land. How about that for a mix? Favorite binge TV: Schitts Creek (no, it’s not about life as a lawyer) and Doc Marten. Favorite 80’s Song….Again, so many: Walking on the Moon; Sledgehammer and Take me to the River - Wait, I just saw a disturbing trend there so let me add - Don’t stop believin’; Sailing; and I can’t go for that ( which plays in my head when I am negotiating with other lawyers).

One of my not-work-related talents….I am a freelance illustrator and painter. In addition to selling my paintings and prints I am just about to publish a childrens’ book that I wrote and illustrated.

Anything else we should know about you, or your sessions?

As Kevin Kelly, former Entertainment Critic for the Boston Globe, used to write: [My aim for my presentations is always to] Leave the audience weak ( from the overwhelming sense of relief from the daily burdens of HR) , weeping ( tears from laughter and joy) and wanting more ( so I can share more information and so one day SHRM will book Paris, Rome, Sydney or the Caribbean for the annual conference and I will again be asked to present a topic or two).”

Jim is speaking Tuesday at 2 p.m. and Wednesday at 10 a.m. Find more info on his sessions here:



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: