Paul H. Tobias Tribute

Richard E. Johnson

I remember Paul Tobias more for his cheerful, positive, confident attitude toward life than for anything else. Maybe a decade ago, at a Florida NELA gathering at the Radisson Hotel at Indialantic Beach, I got up early to catch the sunrise over the Atlantic. The breakfast room was perfectly positioned to catch it and had just opened. One of our speakers, Lew Maltby, who has made quite a mark in American employee rights, joined me. Paul Tobias, whom I didn’t know well enough to call Pete, had to swim a few laps in the hotel pool before he joined us. We had a memorable conversation. Two things stick out. Paul had taste enough to share my affection for an old-school no-frills Florida beach front-hotel with modest amenities but all the basics. Also, Paul wanted me to be sure to know that the founding of NELA was in Florida, in Wesley Chapel. There was some kind of an ABA event that those interested in forming an employee-rights group would be attending anyway. So they had a sort of rump session and started NELA, though I think he said they called it PELA — Plaintiffs Employee Rights Association. .

Years later, in 1993, Florida NELA started the same way — a rump session during the National NELA convention at the Dolphin Hotel in Disney World.