(December 2, 2011) The California Chamber of Commerce has expanded the Legal Affairs Department to strengthen its ability to represent the business perspective in court battles.
Joining the CalChamber in November as associate general counsel was Heather Wallace, a seasoned litigator with experience on employment law, health care, intellectual property and more.
Serving as employment law editor/staff counsel since June has been Gail Cecchettini Whaley, with nearly 20 years of practice in employment law.
“Many issues having a huge impact on California’s economy, business climate and how California employers manage daily operations are being decided in court,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg. “The CalChamber’s enhanced legal staff will help us stay on top of the most significant cases.”
The Legal Affairs Department is headed by Vice President and General Counsel Erika Frank. Through their active involvement on the front lines of California’s legal and labor law compliance scene, Frank and her team are first to know when and how changes in law affect employers.
Wallace comes to the CalChamber from the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB), where she was senior staff counsel, providing legal advice on the Healthy Families Program, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan and the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program.
For four years, she offered legal counsel in various capacities to EdFund, a non-profit organization providing student loan guarantee services to students seeking higher education. EdFund, based in Rancho Cordova, was succeeded by ECMC in December 2010, continuing to provide information on education finance and student loan services.
Wallace’s responsibilities at EdFund/ECMC included intellectual property, employment law, contract negotiations, bond-related issues, regulatory analysis, security, privacy, retirement plans and medical benefits, state business filings and records retention.
Before joining EdFund, Wallace was in private practice. She litigated commercial and intellectual property matters for a Sacramento firm. She also represented technology companies on intellectual property cases for a Cupertino firm, in addition to litigating antitrust and contract disputes.
Wallace holds a B.A. in history from the University of New Orleans. She earned honors in legal research and writing, and civil procedure while attending Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington. She received her J.D. with honors from Santa Clara University School of Law, where she was technical editor of the Computer and High Technology Law Journal.
Gail Cecchettini Whaley
Since joining the CalChamber staff, Whaley has been chief author of the popular HRWatchdog blog and HRCalifornia Extra e-newsletter, as well as a contributor to and editor of CalChamber’s various human resources compliance products.
Her practice before coming to the CalChamber included representation of private employers and public agencies in employment-related disputes, including harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and tort claims.
She also specialized in providing advice and counsel to employers on a wide range of labor and employment issues and conducting neutral workplace investigations. She has provided training to employers on numerous topics, including performance management and how to conduct effective workplace investigations.
Whaley earned a B.A. in political science with high honors from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of Southern California.
Frank was named vice president of legal affairs in 2009. She joined the CalChamber in April 2004 as a policy advocate and began serving as general counsel shortly thereafter, leveraging her 10 years of combined legal, governmental and legislative experience.
Before assuming full-time general counsel responsibilities in late 2005, Frank also lobbied the legislative and executive branches on taxation, civil litigation and lawsuit abuse issues.
As CalChamber’s subject matter expert on California and federal employment law, she oversees and contributes to CalChamber’s labor law and human resources compliance publications; co-produces and presents webinars and seminars; and heads the Labor Law Helpline.
She uses her employment law expertise to develop and facilitate training courses for HR professionals, and she is a sought-after speaker at industry events.
Frank holds a B.A. in political science from University of California, Santa Barbara, and received her J.D. from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific.
Staff Contact: Erika Frank