Michael G. Okun

Michael G. Okun


phone (919) 942-5200
(800) 458-2541 (Toll Free)
fax (919) 942-5256
location Chapel Hill office
email mokun@pathlaw.com


Mike studied art at Antioch College, graduating in 1977, and law at the University of North Carolina Law School, graduating, with honors, in 1980. During law school he was selected as the James O. Bowman Scholar, served on the Law Review, received the Order of the Coif Award for Legal Writing, and captained Willie and the Poor Boys, the school’s undefeated championship softball team. Before entering private practice, he clerked for the Honorable J. Dickson Phillips of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and worked as a litigation attorney in the Appellate Court Branch of the Enforcement Division of the National Labor Relations Board in Washington.

Mike represents unions and individuals with labor and employment problems. He has represented local unions affiliated with more than two dozen international unions, as well as the internationals, in hundreds of arbitrations, NLRB proceedings, contract negotiations, and related matters across North Carolina, as well as in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia , West Virginia, and Maryland. He has successfully argued cases in the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits. He serves as general counsel to the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, and as Special Counsel to the Board of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, the organization of musicians from the 50 largest orchestras in the United States. He teaches the labor law course at the Wake Forest University School of Law and has taught the employment law course at the UNC School of Law.  In 2011, Mike was a visiting professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, teaching labor law and law of the workplace.  He has lectured for a number of other law schools, including Cornell, Duke, and William & Mary.

Mike has served as Chair of the Labor and Employment Section of the North Carolina Bar Association; on the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Coordinating Committee, the national organization of union attorneys; on the Executive Board of the National Employment Lawyers Association, the national organization of attorneys representing employees; and as co-chair of Regions VII and VIII of the ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law’s Committee on Practice and Procedure Under the NLRA. He serves on the North Carolina Commission on Workforce Development and has served on numerous state legislative study commissions, and consulted and conducted educational programs for the ABA and the Free Trade Union Institute in Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia.

Mike is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite, and North Carolina Super Lawyers and Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel, published by Law and Politics Magazine. Mike is one of two North Carolina lawyers – and the only representing unions or individuals – to be elected a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.  He also has been elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance.  His work has been honored by, among others, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, North Carolina State AFL-CIO, North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Project, North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina Association of Retired Americans, Triangle Native American Association, and Southerners for Economic Justice. In 1995, Mike was among the North Carolina lawyers selected to be interviewed about his career for the Southern Oral History Program, an interview subsequently archived in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC.  In 2011, Mike was awarded The Order of The Long Leaf Pine.

From 1997-2001 Mike took leave from the firm to serve as one of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO’s two full-time elected officers, the first private practitioner in the country to be elected to such a position; he was elected and served with the nation’s first African-American state federation president. In the decade before graduating from college and attending law school, he worked as a graphic artist, a rehabilitation therapist, a cab driver, and, mostly, an ironworker, working out of Local 63.

Areas of Practice:

  • Labor and Employment Law