If you’re thinking about your law specialty — whether it’s family law, corporate law, or employment law, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before settling on a choice.
No matter the specialty you choose, you obviously have a passion for helping people and ensuring they receive the justice they deserve. But if you are particularly interested in the details of employment, business operations, and fighting for the rights of many disenfranchised employees, then employment law may be a good fit.
To learn more about what your career could look like as an employment lawyer, check out the rest of this blog for more.
Getting to Grips With the Basics
When you become an employment lawyer, you qualify as both a barrister and solicitor. This means you’ll have the chance to litigate legal issues, which includes representation in court. It also means you’ll have to review and draft documents, such as employment contracts.
So, in short, an employer lawyer covers most faculties and responsibilities of the law. This puts you in a unique position, as most lawyers either concentrate on litigation or solicitation, but not both.
The Difference Between Employment and Labor Lawyers
All-too-often, these two types of lawyers are confused with one another. It’s important to note that an employment lawyer only works within non-unionized work environments. While a labor lawyer works with unionized workplaces.
An employment lawyer may also work with a private law firm, such as this employment law firm, or within the legal department of a private corporation. They can also work with non-profit, government, or public interest organizations. Employment lawyers work directly with employers or employees, too.
On the other hand, labor lawyers focus exclusively on labor law. They only tend to work with unionized employers and employees. Bear in mind that an employment lawyer would not normally represent a unionized employee as they have access to labor lawyers for their representation.
Why Choose the Specialty of Employment Law?
When a person chooses to specialize in employment law, this means they take an interest in social justice. In essence, you are dedicating your career to advocating for the rights of workers and employees who are not represented by a union.
However, there are two different types of representation in employment law. You can either represent company management or represent the employee side of an organization.
If an employment lawyer focuses on management representation this doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have a passion for social justice. It’s still possible to advocate for employee rights by advising management of their legal obligations. It’s their duty to keep management accountable to their employees and the rights that they have.
To add to this, harassment cases, discrimination cases, and terminations may take place throughout a business, but both parties always deserve a voice and a fair chance under the law.
What Does an Employment Lawyer Earn?
In today’s day and age, most employment lawyers do not charge or earn much less than $250 per hour. Generally, this is the amount charged by junior lawyers at small law firms.
As a lawyer with five or more years of experience, the rate goes up a fair bit. Most medium-sized law firms will charge $400-$500 per hour to hire an employment lawyer. If you have more than 15 years’ experience, the average rate goes up to $800 per hour.
It’s a no-brainer that the larger the employment law firm, the higher the rates will be. In fact, you can expect the rates to be at least 30-40% more than a small, local firm. This is due to the huge overheads that go with managing a large law firm with a reputation to uphold.
If an employment lawyer is highly reputable and has more than 20-30 years’ experience in this field, you can expect to pay over $1,000 per hour. But you bet your bottom dollar that they will be worth every penny!
In some instances, an employment lawyer may not charge per hour. Rather, they work on a contingency fee — which means that if you do not win your case, you don’t have to pay anything.
The contingency fee is based on a percentage of what your total winnings would be, as granted by the court. This percentage averages around 30%. However, contingency percentages can be less than this.
And what can you expect to pay for lawyer consultation fees? In most cases, this is free-of-charge, or it may be based on a lawyer’s hourly rate. However, most lawyers will discount this fee and charge only $250, rather than their standard $500 hourly rate.
This choice is based purely on the law firm’s consultation policy and is completely up to their discretion.
The Basic Tasks Performed by an Employment Lawyer
As mentioned, an employment lawyer may choose to represent employees or an employer in any given business. They may toggle between both, too.
When focusing on an employee(s), a lawyer acts as a representative for the rights of an employee. They argue for justice for an employee, based on what their grievance is with an employer. One of the most common issues tends to center on employee termination or breach of an employment contract.
As an example, an employment lawyer will then consider and review these factors:
- Severance that is owed to the employee
- Whether there was a just cause for employee termination
- Contract interpretation and any issues with understanding
- Other human rights issues
To add to this, an employment lawyer also oversees all the solicitation of an employee’s case. This includes the review of contracts, policies, employee benefit plans, insurance coverage, and other agreements on equity. They also represent employees when it comes to workplace investigations.
The overarching goal of an employment lawyer is to prosecute human rights violations on behalf of an employee. Generally, these violations are the fault of an employer or another member of staff.
Some basic tasks that an employment lawyer may perform during the day include:
- Consulting with a dismissed employee
- Drafting demand letters regarding employee severance
- Launching a wrongful dismissal case
- Reviewing employee contracts and termination clauses
- Attending workplace investigations
- Attending court in the instance of a tribunal or litigation matter — representing the employee
These are just a few of the many daily tasks that an employment lawyer may cover. But what about an employer and when they need representation? Let’s dive into how an employment lawyer can help…
Representation for Employers
When it comes time for an employer to enlist the services of legal aid, an employment lawyer represents an employer against a grievance that an employee may have. As mentioned, the most common issue is based on contract termination between an employer and an employee.
In this case, an employment lawyer will offer advice on the best amount of severance to offer an employee. On the flip side, an employer may also consult with a lawyer based on whether they have a legitimate case to terminate an employee without severance.
A large part of an employment lawyer’s job is also drafting employment policies and contracts. They also spend plenty of time on due diligence when it comes to reviewing employment contracts and other business transactions. A good example of a case of litigation is when a business owner wants to sell their business.
An employment lawyer is then tasked with reviewing all the employee contracts and the possible liability that an employer could face. The lawyer will then quantify this liability so that a business owner can assess whether to sell and how to keep all their employees happy.
Common Issues That Employment Lawyers Oversee
So, we’ve gone over the fact that employment lawyers tackle grievances based on contract termination. But there is so much more to their profession than this. Just a few of the other issues that an employment lawyer may oversee include:
Various Forms of Litigation
Other than contract termination, other issues regarding litigation and lawsuits include employee discrimination, denied benefits, and wage and hour claims. An employment lawyer may represent an employee in any of these cases or defend an employer against such claims.
An employer may also file a lawsuit against an employee for violating non-compete, or business confidentiality agreements.
Class Action Lawsuits
In this case, an employment lawyer may defend a group of employees who file a joint grievance against an employer because of adverse action. This action could include discrimination, wage and hour issues, contract issues, and more.
A class-action lawsuit includes several different plaintiffs, and the major benefit of these types of lawsuits is that the litigation cost can be split between them all.
Claims of Workers’ Compensation
These types of situations arise when an employee has been injured on the job or falls ill due to their work environment or work stress. When an employee files for damages, an employment lawyer can defend the employer, or represent an employee and assist with filing a successful appeal.
In certain situations, an employee may wish to file a third-party grievance against another party that is not related to the employer. This could be related to a work injury or illness, too. An employment lawyer will then represent the employee and assist in preparing complaints, as well as representing them in court if needs be.
What Type of Skills Do You Need as an Employment Lawyer?
In order to practice as an employment lawyer, you’ll need to have a law degree first. You’ll need to have an in-depth knowledge of common law as well as domestic and statutory legislation.
In addition to this, an employment lawyer should have a certain level of skill when it comes to communication, analysis, and interpersonal connection. They act as mediators between two or more different parties, so interpersonal skills are very important.
You must be able to openly talk and work directly with different people from many walks of life. Being a people’s person can benefit you greatly as an employment lawyer. A certain level of confidence is key in order to hold your own in stressful court appearances, too.
The job of an employment lawyer is also contingent on empathy. You must be able to work with people and take their emotions into consideration. This is where good communication and interpersonal skills come in handy, as this will help to build trust between you and the clients you represent.
What Are the Challenges Faced by an Employment Lawyer?
One of the greatest challenges faced by this type of lawyer is the ever-changing workplace environment, government policies, and business policies. As an employment lawyer, you must be able to adapt to these changes.
Bear in mind that legislation is also bound to change, and much of the time this is based on government policies. You must stay abreast of these legislative changes and apply them to your work.
One thing’s for sure, there is no shortage of intellectual challenge in this field of law. You are required to keep up with changing laws, amended laws, and different interpretations of the law according to different judges at all times!
Feed Your Mind With Knowledge
If you’ve been thinking about becoming an employment lawyer, we hope this blog has outlined exactly what to expect throughout this type of career. While the job of an employment lawyer has its challenges, it can be very fulfilling work.
If you’re looking to expand your mind and your general knowledge, you’re in the right place! Be sure to explore the rest of this site for updates on a range of topics including business, technology, lifestyle, world news, and so much more.