Eric J. Conn is a founding partner of Conn Maciel Carey and Chair of the firm’s national OSHA • Workplace Safety Practice Group. For more than twenty years now, Eric’s practice has focused exclusively on issues involving occupational safety and health law.
Before launching his own OSHA Practice, Eric practiced for more than a decade alongside the former first General Counsel of the OSH Review Commission. Eric then became Head of an OSHA practice at a large employment law firm that was honored as the “Occupational Health & Safety Law Firm of the Year” by Corporate INTL Magazine in 2014.
Mr. Conn is a popular speaker on OSHA topics, including as the director of Conn Maciel Carey’s annual OSHA Webinar Series, and he regularly keynotes trade group and industry conferences. He is also the curator of the firm’s award-winning OSHA Blog, the OSHA Defense Report, and he is often quoted as a leader in the field in trade publications.
Eric and his team of OSHA-specialist attorneys develop safety and health regulatory strategies for employers across all industries with a particular emphasis on:
- Advising and representing employers through inspections, investigations and enforcement actions involving OSHA and other safety-related agencies
- Managing the full range of litigation against OSHA
- Representing employers during U.S. DOJ investigations and prosecutions of alleged OSH Act criminal violations
- Developing and auditing safety programs and policies
- Providing workplace safety training and compliance counseling for employers
Get to Know Eric!
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
The Outer Banks of North Carolina. I used to go there for beach week as a high school kid, and now I take my family there every year. Slightly different trips.
What was your first job?
When I was 15 years old, I started busing tables at a resort in Williamsburg near Bush Gardens. I worked there throughout high school and most of the summers in college, and eventually held just about every job in food service; I delivered room service, tended bar, manned the grill at the pool, and waited tables for years. Every attorney should have that experience working in restaurants and hospitality. There’s just no better training for client service (like a law practice), than waiting tables.
If you could share a cup of coffee with one individual, living or dead, who would it be?
That would be my grandfather, Julius Conn, who died when I was pretty young. He was a Hall of Fame track and basketball coach and athletic director in Newport News, VA where I grew up. He won six State Boy’s Basketball Titles at Newport News High School! He was involved in desegregating the public schools there. When I’m back in Newport News and people learn that I’m Julie Conn’s grandson, I hear the most wonderful stories about the influence he had on their lives. Spending some time with him now, as an adult, and with a family of my own, would really be special.
What do you do for fun?
I earned my college and law degrees from the University of Virginia, like so many in my family, so I’ve been an avid UVa sports fan my whole life. My family are longtime season ticket holders for basketball and football, and we go to as many games as we can every year. I had a particularly joyful 2019 when my beloved Wahoos made a most improbable and thrilling run to a men’s basketball national championship, with one miraculous win after another. I was in Minneapolis for the Final 4 with my parents and a bunch of great old school friends, and that had to be the most fun weekend ever.
What do you “Netflix”?
I’m pretty sure I’ve reached the end of Netflix after 15-months of this pandemic.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Professionally, that has to be launching Conn Maciel Carey with Kara and Bryan, and then building an OSHA Team that I consider to be the most outstanding group of OSHA-specialist attorneys in the country. At the same time, I’m incredibly proud of my three wonderful kids and the family that my wife Hillary and I have made. Despite the crazy life of an OSHA defense lawyer, I make sure I have time to coach baseball and basketball for both of my boys, and just spending time being a kid with my kids!
What is your most embarrassing lawyer moment?
I was preparing for a big conference we were organizing and I was trying to fit someone’s job title on to one line in the program agenda, and I botched the abbreviation for “Assistant” — “Ass.” instead of “Asst.” That could be why that person has not returned to speak at the event since.
What advice would you give to a law student?
I have found a lot of success in my career by being extremely specialized. There are so many lawyers in this country, and so many who have broad practice areas — general litigation, corporate transactions, or general regulatory types. I have found it is much easier to develop a genuine mastery of your practice area, distinguish yourself as a recognized expert, and earn your clients’ confidence when you focus your practice on a narrow slice of the law, and then stay in that lane. That has served me very well.
Connect with Eric
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