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Jill Leka


Clark Baird Smith LLP

JILL LEKA is a strategic business partner helping employers solve their thorniest labor and employment law issues. Jill focuses on traditional labor matters as well as those involving employment litigation and the public (including educational) sector.  In that role, she also proactively counsels public, not for profit and private sector clients to position them for success. She represents employers in grievance and interest arbitrations, unfair labor practices and Union representation proceedings, disciplinary, pension/PEDA/PSEBA, constitutional and discrimination litigation, as well as conducts complex investigations. Jill has successfully negotiated hundreds of collective bargaining agreements.  Jill also advises not for profits and educational institutions, including institutions of higher learning in all legal matters, including serving as General Counsel and all issues associated therewith.  Prior to starting CBS LLP with her colleagues, she practiced at Seyfarth Shaw LLP from 1993 until 2010, where her legal focus closely resembled that at CBS LLP. 

From 1988 to 1993, Jill served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Springfield, Illinois.  As Assistant Corporation Counsel, Jill represented and advised City of Springfield officials on all aspects of municipal, labor, employment, law enforcement, discipline, discrimination and benefit issues.  She also represented the City in grievance arbitration, interest arbitration, labor board and disciplinary proceedings and state and federal court litigation.  In addition, Jill negotiated all the City’s collective bargaining agreements (29) covering over a thousand employees, including agreements for police, fire, clerical, professional, and maintenance and craft employees.

In 1987 and 1988, Jill was Labor Relations Counsel for the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services.  In that capacity, she participated in collective bargaining negotiations for contracts covering 40,000 employees on behalf of the State of Illinois, represented state agencies in arbitration and labor board proceedings and advised state agencies on disciplinary matters, contract administration and other employment-related issues.

Jill currently serves as General Counsel for the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association and as a member of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Human and Civil Rights and ADR Committees. She is a past chair of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), and previously served on the ISBA Employee Benefits Council, the Professional Women’s Council, and as President of the Central Illinois Women’s Bar Association.  Jill also served as the Chairperson of the City of Springfield Liquor Commission. In addition, Jill is an author of “Much Smarter Bargaining” (NPELRA 2017), “Freedom of Speech in the Public Workplace” (CABA 1998), “Illinois Statutes Affecting Public Employee Relations” (IPELRA 1995), and “Survey of Employment Law” (1993 Southern Illinois University Law Journal).  She has conducted numerous training programs on a variety of subjects and is a frequent speaker on various labor and employment topics.