40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

John Gannon

Associate Attorney, Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C.; Age 37

John Gannon

John Gannon

John Gannon says employment law is an intriguing field, even for non-lawyers, because of its universal impact compared to, say, divorce law or criminal law.

“Everyone has had a job, so everyone can relate,” Gannon said. “Unfortunately, people may have lost their job or know someone who has, so they have a first-hand perspective on the issues we deal with on a daily basis.”

However, the legal world wasn’t Gannon’s first career choice. He first went into marketing and advertising, but found that wasn’t as compelling to him as, well, arguing.

“I was always getting into arguments — not because I had to be right; I just enjoyed discussing legal or other issues with people. I like to get their perspective, especially if it’s someone I respect, because they’re often able to shed light on aspects of the argument I wasn’t even looking at. But I really do like arguing, and what better place to do that than in the legal field?”

He said legal work sometimes resembles another passion, tennis. “You’re on one side of the net, and another lawyer is on the other side. There’s a lot of rallying back and forth.”

He says this is an exciting time to be in employment law — the specialty of his Springfield-based firm — particularly because of all the issues related to emerging technologies, from social media to working remotely to bring-your-own-device rules governing laptops, tablets, and smartphones at work.

Meanwhile, he has successfully defended employers against claims of discrimination, retailiation, harassment, and wrongful termination, as well as emerging issues ranging from Massachusetts’ new earned-sick-time law to changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act related to overtime exemptions.

“These changes impact a lot of employees,” Gannon noted. “A significant part of our experience is just counseling employers when they have questions and seek advice related to compliance.”

Outside the office, he’s cultivating important relationships as well, such as his pro bono legal-aid work with the Springfield District Court Lawyer for a Day program, and especially as a board member with Educational Resources for Children, an Enfield nonprofit that provides after-school services for kids.

“In today’s world, a lot of children have two working parents, and these types of programs are becoming more and more important,” he said. “Parents want to feel confident knowing that, every day, their children are involved in rich academic and recreational activities after school.”

After all, the work world — with all its legal complexities — will arrive soon enough.

— Joseph Bednar

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

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