Fisher & Phillips, an Atlanta-based labor and employment firm, has opened an office in Washington. And to head that office, the firm has tapped Dennis Cuneo, who until recently was counsel to Arent Fox.
Cuneo, who joined Fisher & Phillips as a partner on July 1, said the decision to open an office in Washington was “driven by what [Fisher’s] clients were telling us.” He said, “Washington is where the policy is made, so it makes sense to have a presence in Washington as well as where our clients are based.”
Cuneo, 60, said he is looking for permanent office space and staff members for his new firm, but he is already handling client matters for Fisher & Phillips. He expects to have a location picked out sometime within the next month or so.
Cuneo has worked on labor and employment matters, both in in-house legal departments as well as in Big Law. He left Arent Fox in 1984 after four years with the firm to join the general counsel’s office at Toyota Motor Corporation. When he left Toyota in 2006, he was senior vice president of Toyota Motor North America.
While at Toyota, Cuneo oversaw legal, government affairs, public affairs, industry relations, administration, human resources, strategic planning and research. Cuneo was a member of the management team that started New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., Toyota’s first assembly plant in North America. He also helped establish Toyota’s North American manufacturing headquarters.
He has also served as a member of the National Association of Manufacturers’ board of directors. At NAM, Cuneo chaired the Human Resources Policy Group, which shaped NAM’s legislative and regulatory strategies on labor relations, employment, OSHA, healthcare and employee benefits. He currently serves as a senior adviser to the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce.
At Fisher & Phillips, Cuneo will represent clients in the automotive, solar, and nanotechnology sectors among others. He declined to name individual clients.
For the immediate future, Cuneo will be the sole lawyer based in Washington fulltime. But Edwin Foulke Jr., a former assistant secretary of Labor for OSHA who co-chairs the firm’s workplace safety and catastrophe management practice group, will split his time between Washington and Atlanta.
Cuneo said he has known the lawyers at Fisher & Phillips for years because the firm represents Toyota on labor and employment disputes. He said he decided to join the firm from Arent Fox because the firm, which has 210 lawyers spread across 22 offices, has fewer client conflicts than a larger firm like Arent Fox.
“I hold Arent Fox and its lawyers in the highest regard. But with a general practice firm that size, there is more likelihood that some cases will be conflicted out,” Cuneo said. “I’m looking forward to working to grow Fisher & Phillips presence in Washington.”