In 1998, Lyndel Erwin retired from his longtime position as a District Director for the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, and began a second career as a consultant at our firm in 2000. For the next 23 years, he shared his expertise with Lehr Middlebrooks’ attorneys and clients. On November 10, 2023, he passed away. Members of our firm who had the privilege of working with Lyndel will always remember him with great fondness, and we wanted to honor him and his family by reflecting on his legacy.
I met Lyndel when I was an associate attorney representing a client who clearly violated the FLSA. Lyndel was the Deputy District Director at that time. The client agreed to a $1,500 settlement and delivered it to Lyndel in bags of pennies. That began a life-long professional and what evolved into a personal relationship. When Lyndel first started to work with the firm–Lehr Middlebrooks & Proctor at that time–his office was close to mine, as was Dave Proctor’s. Lyndel’s voice carried, and so did Dave’s. Middlebrooks or I would go to Dave’s office and close his office door. However with Lyndel, we closed our doors. Lyndel was our senior partner.–Richard Lehr
Lyndel will be missed by those of us who worked with him, not only for his knowledge about the various wage and hour laws but more so because being around Lyndel makes one feel better about their day along with the realization that there are people in this world who are genuine and not filled with cynicism.–David Middlebrooks
Lyndel’s knowledge of the law was legendary. He had instant recall of legal and agency decisions more than half a century old – things which don’t exist on the internet, only on mimeographed paper in his office. But even more impressive, he was able to share that knowledge gently so that his audience (be it lawyer or client) didn’t feel dumb for having been wrong. He was always good for a legal war story and instilled confidence in those who worked with him.–Al Vreeland
Lyndel and I started at Lehr Middlebrooks within a few months of each other although at the opposite ends of our professional careers. His knowledge of wage and hour law, including the evolution and nuances of the law, was encyclopedic. He had my full respect and appreciation as a professional mentor. But what I really learned to appreciate about Lyndel over the past twenty-three years was much more personal. He was engaging, humble, considerate and a person of great faith. He never failed to inquire about my family and provided tremendous insight and proper perspective regarding both the somewhat mundane as well as the significant challenges that life presents. He possessed a unique gift for imparting wisdom and insight in a manner that made you feel as though he was right there with you. He was both a friend and mentor and, although I will certainly miss his physical presence, I will cherish the example that he set for all of us. –Mike Thompson
When I began working at Lehr Middlebrooks in 2006, I had the good fortune of having an office adjacent to Lyndel’s. I learned a great deal about wage and hour law just by setting aside whatever I was doing and listening to his half of client consultation calls. More than once, if I was stymied by a wage and hour question, Lyndel would provide not just the answer, but often a copy of some portion of the DOL Wage and Hour Handbook (which was not then fully publicly available) addressing the precise issue. At times, when describing various members of our firm, I’ve said that Lyndel had forgotten more wage and hour law than most employment attorneys would ever know. But, in retrospect, that was mistaken, because I am not sure Lyndel ever forgot any of it. One of the greatest professional compliments I have ever received was, in response to an e-mail I’d sent him to be sure I was about to give a client correct advice, Lyndel replied back, “You are a rare attorney as most of them don’t understand how to do the math. At Wage Hour we used to laugh at having to explain computations to the government attorneys and/or the firm’s attorneys.”–Whitney Brown