John Higgins '89 was recently elected partner at Nixon Peabody LLP, an international law firm with approximately 700 attorneys in 17 cities, including London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.
Based in the firm's Albany office, Higgins focuses his practice on labor and employment law and ERISA litigation on the side of management. He has counseled and represented employers in all types of employment, employment discrimination, employee benefits and traditional labor litigation and practice for more than 20 years.
Higgins also has significant experience representing employers in state and federal courts, as well as on appeal, including first chair experience in both jury and non-jury trials in cases of age, sex, pregnancy, race, disability and other types of discrimination and retaliation, as well as defending claims brought against employers and fiduciaries under ERISA and state common laws. His trial experience includes serving as lead defense counsel in class action, multiple plaintiff and individual plaintiff cases.
Encouraged to apply to Albany Law by Professor William Watkins, Higgins was captain of the rugby team during his senior year and played rugby for the law school's alumni team for several years after graduating. He also won the Senior Prize Trial competition and the Capital District Trial Lawyers Prize as "best advocate" during his senior year. After graduating, he worked as an associate in the labor department with Bond, Schoeneck & King, LLP, in both Albany and Syracuse, N.Y. from 1989 to 1996.
Higgins joined Nixon Peabody as counsel in 2001 after serving as of counsel with Cusick, Hacker & Murphy, LLP, in Latham, N.Y. Between 1995 and 1998, he was an adjunct professor at Albany Law, teaching all aspects of employment regulation.
In addition to serving as a friend and mentor to many Albany Law students and BLSA members over the years, Higgins is a frequent lecturer and trainer for the New York State Bar Association and for employer and personnel groups on issues related to sexual, racial and other types of harassment and discrimination, affirmative action, union avoidance, compliance with state and federal wage and hour laws, ERISA litigation and legal ethics.
In recognition of his achievements as a labor and employer attorney and employment defense litigator, Higgins has been selected by his peers in the profession as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in the areas of labor and employment law every year since 2007. He has also been named a New York "Super Lawyer" for the past five consecutive years, and he was recently named one of the top attorneys in corporate litigation in the Corporate Counsel edition of Super Lawyers.
A near life-long resident of Albany and a graduate of the Albany Academy and Hamilton College, Higgins and his wife, Katja, a citizen of Italy from a small town just outside of Venice who is currently a third-year student at the University at Albany, have two daughters, ages 13 and 11.