Angelo Amador

Angelo Amador

Executive Director, Restaurant Law Center

Angelo Amador is Executive Director of the Restaurant Law Center. He also serves as Senior Vice President of Legal Advocacy and Regulatory Counsel for the National Restaurant Association.

Amador serves as chief litigation officer for the Association, prioritizing legal matters to be pursued through amicus briefs or first party litigation. He also represents the Association’s interests by advocating before regulatory agencies; testifying at public hearings; drafting and filing regulatory comments; and, when necessary, recommending and managing legal challenges.

Prior to his current role, Amador was vice president of labor and workforce policy. He was  responsible for working with the business community to develop the restaurant industry’s position on labor, health care, immigration, education and other issues affecting the benefits, availability and quality of the workforce. He advocated on behalf of the Association and its members before Congress and the executive branch.

Before joining the National Restaurant Association, Amador served as an executive director in the Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits Division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he had responsibility for workforce issues, global migration, and travel/border policy. Previously, he was in private practice and served as law clerk to the Hon. David T. Stitt, judge in the 19th Judicial Circuit of Virginia. Prior to his clerkship, he worked in Washington, D.C., for the governor of Puerto Rico as assistant director/legislative counsel and as staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Nirav Bhatt

Nirav Bhatt

Associate, Sheppard Mullin LLP – New York

Nirav Bhatt is an associate in the Finance and Bankruptcy Practice Group and lead associate for the firm’s Alternative Finance team. Nirav represents corporate borrowers, financial sponsors, portfolio companies, commercial banks and other financial institutions in a variety of financing transactions. Some of the areas in which Nirav has experience are senior secured, second-lien and mezzanine credit facilities in connection with bilateral club and broadly syndicated transactions, leveraged buyouts and add-on acquisitions. Nirav also specializes in problem loan workouts, judicial and non-judicial foreclosures.

Jeffrey Brecher

Jeffrey Brecher

Principal, Jackson Lewis PC – New York

Jeffrey W. Brecher is a Principal in the New York Metro Region of Jackson Lewis, and is the head of the firm’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, consisting or more than 100 attorneys helping clients with wage and hour compliance issues and defending clients in litigation. He has litigated hundreds of wage and hours cases, including nationwide collective actions, defending management at arbitration, before state and federal administrative agencies, and at trial, including claims involving improper tip sharing and pooling, “80/20” claims, service charge violations, overtime, minimum wage, and off-the-clock violations. Mr. Brecher regularly advises hospitality clients on compliance, and is a frequent speaker and writer on wage and hour issues facing the hospitality industry. He has been quoted in the Daily Labor Report, Employment Law 360, Bloomberg, and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

Jeremy Creelan

Jeremy Creelan

Partner, Jenner & Block LLP – New York

Jeremy M. Creelan is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department and a member of the Complex Commercial Litigation and Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation Practices. He has broad experience in class action consumer fraud defense and investigations; complex insurance and reinsurance disputes; federal and state election law matters; and intellectual property matters related to technology, including IT outsourcing disputes. He has represented clients in trials, domestic and international arbitrations, and appeals, including in the United States Supreme Court.

Felice Ekelman

Felice Ekelman

Principal, Jackson Lewis PC – New York

Felice B. Ekelman is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. where she serves as the Co-Chair of the Firm’s Restaurant Industry Team. Ms. Ekelman approaches the attorney-client relationship as a business partnership, and clients rely on her to develop both legal and business strategies and when necessary to litigate “bet the company” cases.

Ms. Ekelman places paramount importance on understanding her clients’ businesses, their goals and tolerance for risk. She has decades-long relationships with clients because of her ability to communicate with senior management, develop consensuses in problem solving, and work with clients to execute their goals. Known for her ability to develop thoughtful and creative solutions to complex workplace issues, clients trust her judgment. Ms. Ekelman has in-depth knowledge, having served clients in several industries including hospitality. Ms. Ekelman has defended a substantial number of major restaurant groups in wage and hour claims, and investigates claims of wrongdoing asserted by employees and customers. Her experience in the hospitality industry is well established, and she is regularly asked to speak about workplace law issues at industry events. Ms. Ekelman also represents real estate firms and retailers, and is well versed in the workplace issues unique to those industries.

Gabriel Gillett

Gabriel Gillett

Partner, Jenner & Block LLP – Chicago

Gabriel K. Gillett’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation at both the appellate and trial levels. He writes winning briefs in courts across the country—from the United States Supreme Court to state trial courts—and argues appeals. He also develops and executes successful long-term legal strategies for clients facing multifaceted disputes with government actors and private parties. Mr. Gillett has experience in variety of issue areas, including constitutional law, securities law, administrative law, contract and business disputes, and insurance. A leader of Jenner & Block’s partnership with the Restaurant Law Center, Mr. Gillett also focuses on issues impacting the restaurant and foodservice industry—including related to litigation, regulation, and investigations.

Shawndra Jones

Shawndra Jones

Senior Counsel, Epstein Becker Green PC – New York

Shawndra Jones is a Senior Counsel in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. She has counseled employers on questions arising at the intersection of technology and the workplace and has spoken extensively on legal and ethical issues associated with social media and other digital platforms.

Ms. Jones has lectured on social media ethics as a guest speaker for a groundbreaking Technology and the Law course, created through a partnership between the City University of New York School of Law and the New York State Bar Association. She also co-authored updates to the “Civil Discovery Issues” chapter in Practising Law Institute’s treatise on Social Media and the Law in 2018 and 2019.

Riley Lagesen

Riley Lagesen

Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP – Portland | Chair, National Restaurant Industry Practice Group

Riley founded and chairs DWT’s national restaurant industry practice group and is considered a leading business and legal force in the United States restaurant industry. He represents many of the nation’s most recognized brands and culinary talent and has significant experience with financing transactions of all types, including private equity, family office, and high net worth individuals. He is also known nationally for his development acumen and connections and assists many concepts with navigating traditional and non-traditional development strategies, including franchises, joint ventures, licenses, and management agreements.

He leads approximately 60 professionals on DWT’s restaurant team, which he specifically formed due to his many years as a restaurant employee, manager, and owner in Los Angeles prior to entering the practice of law. He collaborates extensively with restaurant leaders and elected officials around the United States on forward-thinking food policy initiatives.

As the creator and driving force behind the not-for-profit and invitation-only Restaurant High business, leadership, and advocacy summit, Riley galvanizes industry leaders through a day of education, networking, and fun with many of the most influential minds in the business.

K. Liz Lam

K. Liz Lam

Associate, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP – Portland

Liz Lam is a corporate and transactional attorney, with a focus on the restaurant and food and beverage industries. She counsels companies and investors, on a wide range of matters including financing transactions of all types, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and other complex transactions. Liz also regularly assists concepts with navigating traditional and non-traditional development strategies, including franchises, joint ventures, licenses, and management agreements.

Jan Larson

Jan Larson

Partner, Jenner & Block LLP – Washington, DC

Jan A. Larson regularly counsels policyholders with respect to complex insurance coverage placement and renewals and has completed numerous in-depth portfolio reviews across all
major types of coverage. She also represents policyholders in coverage disputes with their insurers nationwide—successfully pursuing hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance recoveries for her clients involving a variety of claims. Ms. Larson has broad experience in resolving insurance disputes involving policyholders across many different industries, including property and business interruption claims impacting the hospitality industry in the wake of various natural disasters.

Michael Lotito

Michael Lotito

Shareholder, Littler Mendelson, PC/Co-Chair, Workplace Policy Institute – Washington, DC

As co-chair of Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute (WPI), Michael Lotito strategically advises clients and policy makers on what labor and employment law might become, not just what it is today. He provides counsel in all aspects of traditional labor relations, including matters arising under the National Labor Relations Act.

A nationally recognized thought leader on workplace policy, Michael has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, as well as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In his WPI role, he advocates on behalf of the employer community on a variety of issues, regularly files amicus briefs on vital workplace policy concerns and has led the management community in opposition to the federal persuader rule, which would destroy confidentiality between lawyers and their clients.

Through the Emma Coalition, a project Michael co-founded and named in honor of his granddaughter, he is at the vanguard in preparing American business and the American workforce for the future of work. As technology, especially robotics and artificial intelligence, creates not only unprecedented displacement but also unprecedented opportunities, the Emma Coalition, in cooperation with government and corporate entities, examines what skills the American workforce will need down the road and makes sure America and its people will remain competitive in the years to come.

As part of this work, Michael has coauthored a widely read report summarizing what the future workforce can expect and how America can prepare.

Michael represents leading global companies on strategic issues impacting their workplaces, including the intersection of U.S. and international labor standards. He speaks throughout the world to management groups, sharing his passion for the development and implementation of workplace regulations that balance the legitimate needs of businesses, their workforce and society at large.

He is labor counsel to the International Franchise Association, the National Association of Manufactures’ legal compliance program, the Job Creators Network and a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s labor and employment law litigation committee.

Steve Lugerner

Steve Lugerner

General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, TAO Group Hospitality

Steve Lugerner serves as the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of TAO Group Hospitality, joining the company in February 2018. TAO Group Hospitality develops, owns and operates many of the world’s most recognized restaurant and entertainment venues under various brands, including TAO, Marquee, Avenue, Lavo, Beauty & Essex, PHD, The Highlight Room, and Koma in major markets across the world. Prior to joining TAO Group Hospitality, Mr. Lugerner worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison as a Corporate Associate in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group. While at Paul, Weiss, Steve represented the principal owners of TAO Group Hospitality in its majority sale to The Madison Square Garden Company, which closed in January 2017. Steve received a B.A. in Political Science from Emory University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Alan Martin

Alan Martin

Partner, Sheppard Mullin LLP – Orange County, CA

Alan Martin is a partner in the Finance and Bankruptcy Practice Group and specializes in commercial finance law, corporate restructuring, asset acquisition and disposition, bankruptcy, workouts, enforcement of creditors rights and remedies, and related commercial litigation.

Alan’s expertise includes extensive work in bankruptcy and state courts, as well as structured finance documentation in domestic and international matters. He also represents insurers, special servicers, creditors committees, secured and unsecured creditors, trustees, landlords, federal receivers, equipment lessors and debtors, along with various parties in municipal restructurings. Alan’s experience includes knowledge of the commercial real estate, healthcare, food and beverage, retail, manufacturing, hospitality, insurance and recreation industries.

James Paretti

James Paretti

Shareholder, Littler Mendelson, PC / Workplace Policy Institute – Washington, DC

James A. Paretti, Jr. is an experienced management-side employment and labor relations attorney with in-depth political and policy knowledge of labor, pension, healthcare and employment law, regulations and legislation. Jim is well versed in all aspects of legislative and political processes with demonstrated knowledge in the substance of federal labor and employment policy. He has over two decades of experience working with federal legislators and policymakers, including former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairmen of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and senior level administration officials.

Alden Parker

Alden Parker

Regional Managing Partner, Fisher Phillips LLP / Co-Chair, Hospitality Industry Group – Sacramento

Alden Parker is the managing partner of the firm’s Sacramento office and the co-chair of the Hospitality Industry Group. Alden represents employers in all facets of employment law matters. He has considerable experience defending employers in litigation involving claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California’s wage and hour laws, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Alden has also defended employers against whistleblowing and retaliation claims, including claims under the California Whistleblower Act and various provisions of the California Labor Code.

Alden has extensive experience defending employers in federal and state court, as well as in investigations by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), United States Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In addition to defending his clients in litigation, Alden frequently counsels employers to assist them in avoiding litigation. He regularly advises clients on leave management issues and the interactive process for employees with disabilities, reinstatement obligations under various leave laws and wage and hour compliance. Alden has prepared employee handbooks and a variety of agreements, including independent contractor, employment, confidentiality and trade secrets agreements.

His clients are involved in a variety of industries, including restaurants, retail, construction, and healthcare. Alden is also a frequent speaker for many human resources organizations, including those affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management.

Chappell Phillips

Chappell Phillips

SVP, General Counsel and Secretary, Golden Corral Corp.

Chappell Phillips is a Senior-level corporate attorney providing general counsel, strategic planning, executive leadership and department management. A proven and effective consensus-builder and manager of complex business and legal intiatives with significant experience in commercial transactions, M&A, real estate, employment, litigation, franchising, regulatory compliance, and corporate governance.
Some of Mr. Phillips’ specialties include commercial transactions, licensing, M&A/divestitures, corporate governance, intellectual property, regulatory compliance, real estate, employment, litigation, international law.
Mr. Phillips is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and obtained his Juris Doctor at The University of North Carolina School of Law.

Andria Lure Ryan

Andria Lure Ryan

Partner, Fisher Phillips LLP / Co-Chair, Hospitality Industry Group – Atlanta

Andria Ryan is a partner in the Atlanta office and serves as co-chair of the Hospitality Industry Group. She represents employers in virtually every area of employment and labor law.

Andria represents employers throughout the United States in defending employment discrimination and harassment cases as well as handling traditional labor matters such as unfair labor practices and union campaigns.

She spends much of her time counseling employers in day to day employment and labor decisions and educating employers about prevention and practical solutions to workplace problems.

She is a frequent speaker to industry groups and human resources professionals on such topics as avoiding harassment in the workplace, maintaining a union free workplace, avoiding discrimination claims, proper interviewing, and effective discipline and discharge techniques.

Peter Steinmeyer

Peter Steinmeyer

Member of the Firm, Epstein Becker Green PC – Chicago

Peter Steinmeyer is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice at Epstein Becker Green. Practicing in all aspects of labor and employment law, he co-leads the firm’s Trade Secrets & Employee Mobility strategic initiative. He also serves as the Managing Shareholder of the firm’s Chicago office.

Mr. Steinmeyer advises clients on the enforcement and drafting of non-compete, non-solicitation, and employment agreements, and on the movement of employees between competitors; litigates trade secret, non-compete, non-solicitation, raiding, and other restrictive covenant matters in numerous industries, including health care, financial services, insurance, energy, education, real estate, and retail; represents clients in employment-related litigation on a broad array of issues pertaining to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Title VII, and related statutes and regulations; counsels clients on workplace discipline and discharge, policies and procedures, and accommodation issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act; conducts investigations of alleged workplace misconduct, including alleged harassment and retaliation; and negotiates separation agreements for executives.

Landes Taylor

Landes Taylor

Associate, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP – Portland

Landes Taylor concentrates his practice on corporate and financial matters for investors and businesses at all stages of development. A Portland native, Landes practiced in Silicon Valley prior to joining Davis Wright Tremaine. He represents emerging growth companies, restaurant businesses, private equity investors, and venture capital firms in debt and equity financings, mergers and acquisitions, private tender offers, and other complex transactions. Landes has a unique focus on modeling complex capital structures, financing scenarios and liquidity events, helping entrepreneurs and investors analyze possibilities and understand consequences of various transaction structures. He frequently acts as outside counsel to startup company clients in various industries, especially in the technology and restaurant sectors, advising them on matters such as formation, corporate governance, and joint ventures.

Bijal Vira

Bijal Vira

Partner, Sheppard Mullin LLP – New York

Bijal Vira is a partner in the corporate and finance practice areas in the firm’s New York office.

Bijal’s practice is focused on complex, private markets transactions, often involving investment funds (e.g., private equity, private credit, real estate, hedge funds, BDCs), asset managers, insurance companies and other forms of institutional capital in equity and credit investments. He is often engaged to advise clients in deals that involve regulated industries (e.g., healthcare, insurance), cross national borders, or that require novel structuring or restructuring solutions. Bijal is a leader of the firm’s Alternative Finance Team.

Bijal is a member of the board of directors of Business Outreach Center Network and its affiliate, BOC Capital Corp., a not-for-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and a certified Community Development Entity (CDE) dedicated to providing micro-enterprise financing, with a focus on small-business, women, minority and immigrant entrepreneurs.

Bijal received dual bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and Economics from the University of Rochester in 1999, and his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 2002.