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Rifkin Weiner alumna opens own employment law practice

Joyce Smithey

Joyce Smithey

A longtime labor and employment law attorney has opened her own firm in Annapolis after more than a decade at Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC.

“It was in my blood to do this,” Joyce E. Smithey said Monday.

Smithey Law Group LLC, which opened last month, focuses on employment and handles matters including wages, discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse, contract and severance negotiations, equal pay and medical leave. The firm also handles class and collective actions related to wage and hour violations.

Joining Smithey, who led Rifkin Weiner’s labor and employment practice, are two former colleagues, Reuben W. Wolfson and Anton Marino. Smithey also took three support staff and her clients in what she described as an “amicable” departure.

“She’s a terrific lawyer,” said managing partner Alan M. Rifkin. “We enjoyed her company as a partner and wish her only the best.”

Rifkin Weiner has not had a labor and employment practice since Smithey’s departure but plans to bring it back with other counsel, Rifkin said.

Smithey was with Rifkin Weiner for 11 years, including about five as equity partner. This is her first experience opening her own law firm, Smithey said.

“It’s been extraordinary, wonderful, busy, scary,” she said.

Smithey had a different experience opening her own shop compared to other attorneys who make the leap. She already had a robust practice, for one, so she was not worried about drumming up business.

But some challenges of opening a new firm are universal, such as managing administrative duties and obtaining benefits for her staff.

“The practice stays the same but I’m amazed how much office management is involved,” Smithey said. “We’ve been up to the challenge but it has been a challenge.”

Smithey’s practice represents both employees and businesses throughout the state and in Washington. She is actively trying to hire another attorney as soon as possible, Smithey said.

After the firm has been around for between six months and a year, Smithey hopes people recognize it as a boutique practice for employment law matters.

“I’m very excited about having a law firm dedicated only to labor and employment law,” Smithey said. “My goal is to make this as a friendly a firm as possible for this very focused area.”

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