NJCCA Board Profile - Barbara Ann Sellinger
1. Tell us a little about your personal background.
I was born in New York City—at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital (which has since burned down) and grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia—although I never grew very tall. I have three degrees—Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in labor relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and Juris Doctorate from Washington College of Law at American University. I met my husband at a swimming pool in Philadelphia, PA, ( the city in which I had my first legal position and where we were married) and moved to a mutually acceptable city early in our marriage—Newark, NJ. I have spent most of my legal career here in NJ since 1981. I have two children—Ryan and Amanda who are both in College and intending to become lawyers like mom and dad, two dogs—Shelby and Riley—who live at home and fight, and a husband—who is also an attorney—so we have great family debates.
2. What was your first job?
During law school, I worked at the United States Department of Labor, the Division of Judges at the National Labor Relations Board and a Union Labor Law firm of Sherman Dunn Cohen and Leifer. Upon graduation, my first legal job was as a labor association at Cohen Shapiro law firm in Philadelphia.
3. What motivated you to become a lawyer?
I initially took a constitutional law class and found it incredibly interesting. I never missed a class and began taking as many similar classes as possible during my undergraduate and graduate experiences. I also loved labor relations and believed that the best way to accomplish my goals was to become a labor and employment lawyer.
4. Tell us about your in-house experience and what you find the most rewarding about being in-house?
I began working in-house at RJR Nabisco and remained there for almost 16 years. I was promoted from Labor Counsel to Chief Labor and Litigation Counsel.. I left RJR Nabisco and went to work at a law firm for 13 months. I missed being in-house and the ability to work closely with clients—in the development and implementation of strategies—rather than after emergencies have arisen. As a result, I returned as the Chief Legal Officer, Litigation and Employment at American Standard, where I remained for 5 years. I thoroughly enjoyed being an in-house attorney and have been able to continue in-house in senior roles at Wyndham Worldwide (Group Vice President—Global Labor and Employment Law) and Kamine Development Corp (as a General Counsel). I love the experience of working in-house where we are truly part of the team. Here, we are able to partner with clients and to be creative so that together, we can ensure that our clients are able to accomplish their goals
5. Tell us about your position with NJCCA.
I initially served as a board member of the New Jersey Chapter and then was elected to become President for two successive terms. Thereafter, I was elected to the Board of the National ACC. While serving on the National Board, I continued as a Chair of several committees, and remain active on the NJCCA Board to present. I have been a co-chair of the Sponsorship Committee and the NJCCA All Day Conference Committee for several years.
6. What do you find most rewarding about your association with NJCCA?
ACC and NJCCA, as a chapter of ACC ,are created by and for in-house counsel. We are creating programs designed solely for our own needs as in-house counsel. It is the most responsive organization for in-house attorneys, both from a networking and educational perspective. I truly participate in all of our major events and have met incredible people who I value and respect and with whom I have developed fantastic friendships. We are able to brain storm about common interests and concerns regularly, which I find very valuable.
7. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to travel. I also LOVE to play golf. I started to play because on vacations and weekends, my husband and my son disappeared to play golf, and I decided it was worth trying the sport out so I could see them. I just started to do so four years ago and have become addicted to this fabulous sport. I am now the President of the Ladies Golf Association at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Peapack/Gladstone, NJ and a member of the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association.
8. What advice do you have for new to in-house counsel?
Work hard, learn the business for the company for which you work and continue to grow. No matter how much experience we have or how many years we have been practicing law, we can always learn more. Take advantage of all that ACC and NJCCA has to offer—attend the programs and meet your peers. There is so very much to gain.