After spending his undergraduate days as a competitive swimmer, Larry Johnson dove into the deep end of employee representation when he started his law career eight years ago.
An attorney at Hawks Quindel SC, Milwaukee, Johnson specializes in class-action wage and pay cases. He notably won a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case ensuring a change in ownership at a Madison electrical components manufacturer didn’t leave about 30 of its employees without earned wages.
“The best part of my day is when we get a settlement,” Johnson said. “To give that client a check for, say, $10,000 or $20,000, especially to somebody who’s making just over that for a whole year, is a big change in their life.”
The Franklin native knows about hard work from the example of his parents, who took on additional jobs to support him and his brothers so they could go to college.
During his studies, Johnson worked as a Milwaukee County lifeguard. He earned his undergraduate business administration degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and his law degree at Marquette University before landing his first labor law job at Cross Law Firm SC, Milwaukee.
Johnson joined the employment law practice group at Hawks Quindel in March 2013. He and his wife, Shawn, live in Muskego with their 2-year-old Colin and a black Labrador, Grace.
While he jokes that work and family priorities have kept him out of the pool, Johnson has not swam away from lending a hand. He returns to his law school alma mater about once a semester to put a working touch on various employment law courses.
He’s also the vice president of the state bar’s labor and employment group, through which he assists with CLE training and networking for about 800 members.
Back at the office, Johnson has become a mentor to a handful of attorneys, some just younger than him. He said he is inspired by his mother’s advice to “never forget the people who helped you out.”
Johnson’s “open-door policy” and willingness to collaborate have been a great source of learning, fellow attorney Timothy Maynard said, particularly on a recent class action summary judgment in favor of van drivers stiffed on overtime pay.
“[Larry] gave me guidelines on where to start in drafting the motion and supporting brief and we refined it between the two of us,” Maynard said. “I don’t feel like the brief would’ve turned out without his expertise.”