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Employment Attorney of the Month, Kathleen N. Worm

Kathleen N. Worm

The Calm in the Storm

By Bob Friedman

“Nobody likes dealing with people,” said Raleigh employment attorney Kathleen N. Worm. The most challenging part of running a business for entrepreneurs can be the dayto- day people issues, explained Worm. “For instance, the decision to terminate an employee is often very difficult because of the complex and interwoven legal, interpersonal and business issues.”

“I think I am often a voice of reason. I can be the calm in the storm and guide people to the best decisions,” said Worm, who represents employers and executives in various technology and pharmaceutical industries. She brings a 360-degree perspective to her practice having been both a corporate lawyer and an employment lawyer. “It gives me the ability to understand both the business and human resource sides of the equation,” said Worm.

“It’s not about the law; it’s about helping people.” Kathy has a wonderful sense of humor and an engaging personality that can help diffuse an otherwise highly-charged situation.

Worm was a corporate and securities paralegal for Baker & Botts prior to attending law school at Emory University. She practiced corporate and securities law at Jackson & Walker in Texas prior to joining Womble Carlyle in Raleigh. After a short stint as a part-time in-house counsel for Capital Associates, Worm joined Fred Hutchison in 1998 where she launched the employment practice group. “It was the dot-com era and we had all these clients with employment law issues,” recalled Worm. “It was a chance to have a meaningful effect on someone rather than just reviewing corporate documents.”

In 2009, Worm started her own firm and chose to focus on startups. “I understand entrepreneurs,” said Worm, “They are flying by the seat of their pants. You have to let them do that, otherwise you squash their creativity, but they also have to follow some rules to make it work. My job is to give them enough rules to keep them safe.”

When representing senior executives who have been terminated, she guides them through their severance and non-compete agreements. “I know what the employer is thinking. I know how to get the best outcome for the executive,” she said. Worm acts as a coach and mentor, helping the executive with resumes and strategic connections. “I try to take a holistic approach to their situation, not just legal. We work on how to get them back on their feet,” she explained.

Worm dedicates some of her free time to the very kinds of people she works with all day.

She has been on the board of directors of Arts Together, a Raleigh-based nonprofit that teaches art, dance, drama and music to kids ages 3-18. She has also rejoined the board of directors of The Raleigh School, an independent school for children pre-school to grade five. “It’s the creative problem solvers in the world who innovate, create and change things. The music and the arts is where you use your right brain and develop the skills to move society forward.”

For more information, visit www.wormlaw.com.