I believe a lawyer’s job is to be a strong business partner – to know fully a client’s business and business needs and to help the client meet those needs, grow and manage risk. The more I know about my clients’ businesses, from their strategic priorities to their culture, the more I can do to help them sustainably achieve their goals.
“Good lawyers should think strategically and globally — not just about prevailing on the next motion or putting out a single fire. Understanding the significance of a situation, case or issue to a client and its business is critical. Context and perspective matters.”
With extensive experience in labor and employment law and in the hospitality industry, Keith Grossman is an entrepreneurial legal executive known for leading enterprise-wide efforts to facilitate growth and manage risk across global operations.
A partner at Hirschfeld Kraemer, Keith brings an informed strategic perspective on crisis management, client needs, business priorities and budgetary realities. His practice is focused on the full panoply of employment and labor law, including collective bargaining, employment litigation, internal investigations, training, and crisis management. Keith also offers employment counseling and workplace violence prevention program development and administration. He draws from 30 years of experience, both in-house and in private practice, to help clients develop strategies, programs, and approaches to prevent or mitigate risk, and to solve pressing workplace issues.
Business growth is part of Keith’s legal DNA, a trait he nurtured over 17 years as Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In that role, he confronted a full range of global legal issues, from counter-terrorism, natural disasters, diseases, and human trafficking to business expansion to global litigation, employment law, crisis management and response, labor relations, international and domestic investigations, workplace violence prevention, and government affairs. Keith was instrumental in developing Starwood’s global crisis management program after 9/11; he led the company’s worldwide safety and security operations, including counter-terrorism planning. He also led a team and developed the legal strategy that enabled Starwood to obtain the first Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) license to sign the first development deals and open the first U.S.-branded hotel in an embargoed Cuba. Keith was a founding member of Starwood’s Corporate Diversity Council and Human Rights Council, and he developed and chaired the company’s Workplace Violence Prevention Team.
“I was a client for more than 17 years and understand the need for responsiveness — and the need to provide a direct answer or opinion,” Keith says. “Too many lawyers equivocate, and while there are times when a client needs to hear multiple options, there are also times when clients want to know what I would do, based on my experience and expertise.”
“Client service comes naturally to me,” Keith states. “Availability and responsiveness are obviously critical components to good client service, and I have been shocked by how many lawyers fail to appreciate or accept this need for urgency. That’s one of the primary reasons I chose to make my new home at Hirschfeld Kraemer—because they get it when it comes to effectuating the client’s business goals.”
The ability to play it straight – and fast — is important, especially today, when outside factors can accelerate quickly. “I worked in a 24-7 global company and ran our Crisis Management Team,” Keith says. “When there is an actual or potential crisis or emergency, we need to be available. With the speed, breadth, and impact of social media, injury to brand or corporate goodwill can happen instantaneously, either from a failure to respond or a mis-step.”
Keith was a Trustee on the UNITE-HERE National Retirement Fund (NRF), a $2B Taft-Hartley pension fund, and a member of its Spin Committee. After a spin-off of assets and liabilities by the NRF, Keith became a consultant to the newly-formed UNITE HERE Retirement Fund. Keith is also Chair of the Board of REACH Prep, a Stamford, Connecticut-based organization dedicated to facilitating top independent school opportunities, and admission to and graduation from highly competitive colleges, for gifted and economically-challenged Latino and Black students.
Keith says that after a career focused on growing and protecting one company, he is thrilled to bring that expertise to his clients and those of Hirschfeld Kraemer.
A very family-oriented person, Keith enjoys traveling and spending quality time with his wife and two grown children. Having traveled to Cuba more than a dozen times, he remains enamored with the beauty, art, music, food, and architecture of the country as well as the incredible warmth and spirit of the Cuban people. Keith also is passionate about wine, good food, and sports (especially New York Giants football). A history buff, Keith enjoys reading non-fiction and is drawn particularly to the history of the American Civil War, and has toured most of the major battlefields of that conflict.
Panelist, “Time’s Up: What’s Up with the #MeToo Movement?” Central District of California Judicial Conference, Palos Verdes, California, February 15, 2020
“Toe-to-Toe With Labor: Update on Current CBA Negotiations,” 2018 Georgetown Law Hotel & Lodging Legal Summit, Washington, D.C., October 25, 2018
“2018 California UNITE-HERE Major Market Negotiations – What To Expect” Webinar presented to American Hotel & Lodging Association, Human Resources Sub-committee, October 4, 2018
“2018 California UNITE-HERE Major Market Negotiations – What To Expect,” American Hotel & Lodging Association, Labor Sub-committee Meeting, Washington, D.C., September 11, 2018
“2018 California UNITE-HERE Labor Update – Crystal Ball Predictions,” California Hotel & Lodging Association Board Meeting, San Francisco, California, August 27, 2018
“Hospitality Employers Take Note: Are Service Charges Now Gratuities?” The California Workplace Advisor, (Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Blog), November 20, 2019
“Sacramento’s Busy Year: What Employers Need To Know,” The California Workplace Advisor, (Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Blog), October 9, 2019