Daniel Zapata receives 2013 Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize

Seyfarth Shaw LLP established prize in memory of Labor & Employment department partner

Friday, June 7, 2013

Daniel Zapata has been awarded the 2013 Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize. The prize was established in 2009 at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law by the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP to honor the memory of Sandra P. Zemm, who died in September 2008 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Daniel Zapata received the 2013 Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize.
Daniel Zapata received the 2013 Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize.

The Sandra P. Zemm Labor Law Prize is awarded annually to a third-year IIT Chicago-Kent student in the Labor and Employment Law Certificate Program who exemplifies the qualities that Ms. Zemm possessed: "a commitment to pursue a career in labor and employment law, a pioneer spirit and willingness to take the initiative whenever possible, and a gracious and generous attitude toward helping those in need." Recipients are selected by IIT Chicago-Kent faculty who teach the law school's program in labor and employment law. Zapata received his J.D. degree May 19.

"Daniel is reliable, intelligent and hardworking," said Professor Mary Rose Strubbe, assistant director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at IIT Chicago-Kent. "But it is more than those qualities that make him a deserving recipient of the Sandra Zemm Prize. It is Daniel's generosity with his time, knowledge, and enthusiasm—with fellow students and with the broader community—that sets him apart. He has been a resource for the school and the community, and I am confident he will continue to be so throughout his legal career."

As the son of former migrant workers, Zapata said he experienced firsthand the effect that unfair wages, harsh working conditions, and discrimination have on the working poor. "I chose to enter the labor law field in an effort to assist all workers—including those like my parents and past co-workers—in getting the full protection of the law and in getting laws enacted that favor workers' rights."

Zapata earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he majored in political science with a minor in mathematics. Prior to attending law school, Zapata worked as a payroll and benefits supervisor at United Parcel Service (UPS) in Dallas. He said his work at UPS helped shape his approach to the employer-employee relationship.

At IIT Chicago-Kent, Zapata served as president of the Labor and Employment Law Society and as a student editor of the Illinois Public Employee Relations Report. He has interned at the Federal Labor Relations Authority, served as a lw clerk in the Industrial Claims Unit of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, completed an externship with the Illinois Labor Relations Board, and clerked for the Chicago law firm of Asher, Gittler & D'Alba.

A Chicago native, Sandra P. Zemm earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois. She received her J.D. from Florida State University, where she served as managing editor of the law review.

Sandra Zemm joined Seyfarth Shaw in 1975 as the first female associate in the Labor and Employment practice. In 1982, Ms. Zemm became the firm's first female equity partner in Labor and Employment. Her practice concentrated on traditional labor matters, and on matters involving employment discrimination, wage-hour, and employment litigation. She negotiated collective bargaining and/or shutdown agreements with major labor unions, and represented management in more than 200 hearings before arbitrators, the National Labor Relations Board and various state labor agencies. In 2002, Ms. Zemm was elected to the American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

"Sandy was beloved by her colleagues and clients and respected by her opponents. She was a no-nonsense labor lawyer and an elegant, sophisticated woman at the same time. Her ability to stand up to the toughest adversaries while always carrying herself with style and grace inspired many of us who came to the firm after her," said Allegra Rich, Pro Bono and Philanthropy Partner at Seyfarth Shaw. "This award is our way of keeping her in our thoughts and honoring her legacy."

Seyfarth Shaw has over 800 attorneys located in 10 offices throughout the United States, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., as well as internationally in London. Seyfarth Shaw provides a broad range of legal services in the areas of labor and employment, employee benefits, litigation, corporate, and real estate. The firm's practice reflects virtually every industry and segment of the country's business and social fabric. Clients include over 300 of the Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, newspapers and other media, hotels, health care organizations, airlines and railroads. The firm also represents a number of federal, state and local governmental and educational entities.

Founded in 1888, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is celebrating "125 years of distinctive legal education." IIT Chicago-Kent is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, psychology, architecture, business, design and law. IIT Chicago-Kent's Program in Labor and Employment Law allows students to specialize in the law governing the workplace.