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Law Department, 1924-2011

Accession: 1411Identifier: 1411-XX.


  • Creation: 1924-2011

Historical Note

The Law Department plays an essential role in NAM’s operation. It is the corporate legal office of NAM, and handles all contracts, leases, employment law issues, tax questions, insurance issues, and all issues relating to NAM business. Statements and testimonies are cleared through the Law Department to ensure consistency with published NAM policy and current laws. Additionally, the department has a very active amicus program and lead industry coalitions in filing amicus briefs. The department handles a myriad of issues and topics and coordinates daily with other departments to make sure NAM is within its legal bounds regarding federal, state, and local laws and all issues that relate to its tax-exempt status and any other relevant legal or NAM policy consideration.

The Law Department’s origins date back to 1905 when the Association was incorporated. The Constitution and By-Laws were reviewed by a counsellor to make sure there were no legal issues. By 1908, the Law Department had been fully established. In 1918, the NAM decided to close the New York branch office of the Law Department and just maintain the office in Washington, D.C.

Between 1908 and 2020, the Law Department had eight different general counsels, with years in position in parentheses: James A. Emery (1908-1937), John C. Gall (1937-1941), Raymond S. Smethurst (1941-1949), Lambert H. Miller (1949-1972), Richard Godown (1972-1978), Thomas J. Houser (1978-1981), William E. Blasier (1981-1983), Janice S. Amundson (1983-2013), and Linda Kelly (2013-present). Additionally, Harvey M. Crow, Fred B. Haught, Alan M. Nedry, John D. McElroy, Paul R. Huard, John M. Finch, Stephanie Richmond, Leslie Carter Silver, John Lucas, John F. McDermid, Gary D. Lipkin, and Quentin Riegel have all worked as assistant, associate, or deputy general counsels during the same period.

Scope and Contents

The Law Department is one of the oldest, continuous departments in the organization. The materials in this series include Law Department publications, briefs, opinions, related correspondence, reports, and court documents. The series is divided into four subseries: Court cases, Subject files, Internal files, and Publications.

The Court cases subseries includes amicus briefs that NAM filed and paperwork related to them, cases before the National Labor Relations Board, and cases NAM had an interest in or was involved with. The court cases deal with numerous topics and issues. Some of these topics include: Americans with Disabilities Act, anti-trust, Civil Rights Act, discrimination, ergonomics, intellectual property, lobbying, lockout-tagout, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), occupational exposure, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, product liability, punitive damages, strikes, and women in the workforce (including maternity and family leave).

The Subject files subseries contain files maintained by the Law Department on a wide variety of topics and likely used as reference. Several of the subject files have information that would be relevant to various court cases, but the files do not pertain to a specific case, rather the issue at large. Several subjects are included, with major issues being Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, anti-trust, Civil Rights Act of 1990, ergonomics, exportation, labor law, lobbying, lockout-tagout, Taft-Hartley Act, trade commissions, and various federal agencies and programs. Correspondence with the International Labor Organization describes NAM’s relationship with this international body as well as efforts to align it with conservative non-Communist labor unions.

The Internal files subseries includes material created and used internally along with lobbying reports filed as mandated. The files were for internal use and document the daily work of the general counsel’s office. The subseries includes business activity reports (which were used for Board of Directors’ meetings and annual reports), contracts that NAM entered, programs and policies that NAM considered and enacted, and trademarks NAM held, among many other topics.

A significant portion of the Internal files are chronological files by name, correspondence sent to the general counsel’s office, and reader or reading files created by lawyers in the Law Department. These are arranged chronologically and include inter-office memos, copies of correspondence, and occasionally copies of testimonies before the U.S. House or Senate.

Several files in the Internal subseries relate to SAFESystem. In the mid-1980s, the SAFESystem (Standardized Accident Frequency and Evaluation System) program was developed for NAM to compile accident reports across several manufacturing sectors. Information included company, name of injured, occupation, nature, severity, and description of injury or illness, accident description, property damage or product loss, and accident analysis. The data was then coded and compiled by NAM from companies to give a more complete picture across the different manufacturing industries, with emphasis on the chemical industry.

The Publications subseries contains publications created by the Law Department for distribution. There are two types of publications: Law Department memos (1943-1976) and NAM Law Digest (1937-1954). The NAM Law Digest was originally issued monthly — it switched to quarterly in March 1941 — from September to June for the purpose of bringing to the members prompt information concerning significant court and administrative decisions, legislation, and related matters.


From the Collection: 1100 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Additional Description

Access Restrictions

Records subject to 25-year time seal. Litigators may not view the collection without approval.

Related Names


Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA