Cleveland brings legal skills to PeopleCap

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

Oct. 31, 2013

Howard Cleveland has brought a unique set of skills and perspective to his role as principal of PeopleCap, the boutique human resources firm he co-founded in 2012.

Cleveland knew his PeopleCap colleagues Anna Holtzclaw and Meg Crosby while growing up, and he attended Rhodes College with Coleman Johnson and Andy Nix.

“It’s fun to be working with real friends,” he said.

Cleveland entered Rhodes with the intention of a pre-med path until, he said, he “ran into the buzz saw which is organic chemistry.”

Switching to a major in psychology, he became fascinated with the subject. Specifically, he grew interested in the psychology of juries during a time when newsmakers such as John Gotti and William Kennedy Smith were on trial and all over television.

“It was always that ‘why things work’ aspect of it that I enjoyed,” he said.

After Rhodes, he headed to the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he was executive editor of the Law Review and graduated cum laude.

Back in Memphis, he began in the field of civil and criminal general sessions work while with Glankler Brown PLLC. He moved to Kiesewetter Wise Kaplan Prather PLC, a firm committed to “creating a culture, a strong culture, where everybody was on the same team trying to do the same thing as far as providing excellent client service,” he said.

It would become a benchmark taken into future endeavors, including the environment of PeopleCap and its clients. While at Kiesewetter Wise, Cleveland transitioned into employment litigation defending companies in lawsuits but also union avoidance work.

“The reason they initially called us was to figure out how to keep the union out, but what we would do was go in and interview people and help them understand what the factors were that were driving the fact that the employees went and contacted the union anyway, figure out what the real drivers were,” he said . . . (read more)