NICOLAAS J. NEL
Attorney with 12 years legal experience emphasizing Employment law, Land transactions, Environmental Law, Immigration Law, International Business Law and Labor relations.
I moved to the US from South Africa in 2000. Accomplishments include establishing a preeminent employer-side labor law practice, often acting in a business partner role similar to that of in-house counsel in the US.
Consistent history of excellent results for clients and positive relationships with union officials. Mergers and acquisitions and commercial transactions.
Background includes business ownership with human resource management. Seeking an in-house attorney role.
Strong results/ business focus Proactive/preventive labor and employee relations
Negotiation o Client relationships o Coaching and educating o Directing legal and litigation strategy
B. Proc. (equivalent to J.D.), University of South Africa, Pretoria, 1983
Completed 24 credit hours to qualify to sit for the Maine Bar Exam at the University of Maine Law School, Portland, ME, completed 2006
M.B.A., Marketing & Labor Relations, University of Pretoria, 1997
B.A., Human Resource Management, University of Pretoria, 1980
Bar admissions: South Africa, 1983
Sole Practitioner, Nicolaas J. Nel, Johannesburg, RSA 1998 – 2000
Advised individual clients on estate planning,wills, trusts, and estates (transitional role in preparation for emigration to USA).
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Managing Partner, Attorneys, Johannesburg, RSA. 1984 – 96
Developed a law firm specializing in employer-side labor, real estate, commercial and mergers/acquisitions to become one of the pre-eminent firms in the Johannesburg area.
Managed all business aspects of the firm; handled marketing and human resources for a total staff of 40 (5 lawyers and 35 administrative support). Personally specialized in labor relations, commercial, and real estate law. Sold the firm in preparation for emigration to USA.
• As a labor relations attorney, represented large food, manufacturing, and retail clients (companies of up to over 5000 employees in over 30 locations), during the early years of South Africa’s labor movement when labor relations were particularly adversarial and volatile. Built an unusual level of trust with union officials; created constructive forums resulting in fair, goal-focused agreements and high satisfaction on both sides.
• Led the firm to establish a reputation for a strong business focus, optimizing client results quickly and cost-effectively.
• Coached and advised management concerning human resource policies and practices and handling labor relations issues. Established a business partner role with clients, directing legal strategy and other outside counsel.
Founder/Board Member/Consultant, Leanic Pty (Ltd). (Kempton Park)/ The House Shop (Austin, TX) 1989 – 2004
Founded a family-owned import/export business specializing in floral accessories/packaging and high-end furniture, house wares, and interior décor. Established business structure and procedures, personnel policies, and employee benefit plans; advised management on import/export regulations.
• Developed a unique presence and a successful niche in the Austin market.
Owner/CEO, NLS Property Developers, Kempton Park, S. Africa 1990 – 98
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PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE cont’d.
Conceptualized, founded, and managed a condominium development business targeting first-time homeowners. Introduced sectional title condominiums to a certain segment South Africa; initiated a trend and continued to lead the market based on superior design at competitive prices.
• Grew the business to annual revenue of $35M; built and sold approx. 1200 condominium units, as well as an office block and several small shopping malls.
Extensive commercial experience, mergers and acquisitions.
KEY COMPETENCIES and RELATED ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Proactive/ preventive labor relations
As an attorney and as a business owner/manager, led and influenced establishment of positive employee and labor relations and minimized risks; as a manager, created ethical, high-performing, collaborative environments
• Frequently built client capability by investigating and identifying root cause of labor relations problems, e.g. management competency issues, and by assisting clients to select effective human resource and labor relations managers.
• Developed consistent, clear policies, easy to understand and interpret, and coached managers to communicate them effectively.
• As a business owner/manager, directly managed staffs of up to 40 and established human resource policies and benefits. Selected and developed staff, coaching them in ethics and client service skills as well as technical competencies.
Coaching and educating clients
Appreciated by clients at all levels of management as an excellent coach: accessible, engaging, clear, and positive. History of quickly calming distraught managers, influencing them toward constructive strategies and developing not only their understanding of labor relations principles but also their problem-solving ability.
Negotiated contracts between clients and up to 6 unions representing as many as 12 different trades and interests, at a time when the labor movement in South Africa was new and unions were particularly aggressive. Excel at developing win-win solutions under challenging conditions.
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• Consistent history of bringing negotiations to rapid closure with optimal results. Quick to assess other parties’ interests and agendas and establish open, constructive dialogue.
• Gained an unusual level of trust with union officials, by treating them with honesty and respect.
Developed excellent long-term business partner relationships with major banks and businesses in the Johannesburg area.
• Built the practice through extensive relationships with senior managers.
• Often acted as an advisor on general business as well as legal issues. Served on the Board of Directors of a large manufacturing client, assisting them with business and financial planning.
Legal and litigation strategy
Strong record of guiding clients toward a constructive legal strategy that optimized their interests.
• Educated senior managers to avoid unnecessary and costly litigation through objective decision-making, clarity regarding facts and evidence, and thorough investigation.
• Excel at de-fusing volatile conflicts and focusing clients on constructive analysis and solutions.
• Flexible and creative in developing alternative strategies to litigation.
• Selected and managed other outside counsel in litigation.