By Jacob Maslow • May 01, 2019•Careers, Firms and the Private Sector
Employment law is a complex practice area focused on the rights of employees and employers. Some cases deal with discrimination, including claims of race, gender, disability or age bias. Other cases may be focused on wages, trade secrets or the enforcement of non-competition agreements.
But the average employment lawyer will spend a large chunk of time counseling clients on how to reduce the risk of litigation.
Employment law is never dull, but just like any other practice area, it does have its downsides.
Employment law typically involves complex human relationships. In fact, it’s this human aspect that attracts most litigators to this practice area. Laws are ever-evolving, and issues are constantly changing. No two cases are the same.
Lawyers in this field spend much of their time counseling and advising their clients. The goal may be to diffuse a problem and prevent litigation, or the goal may be to answer a client’s question on how to discipline or discharge an employee.
Employment law offers interesting work, but it also offers opportunities for growth. Most litigation firms now have some kind of employment law component to their practice, but there are also many firms dedicated solely to employment law. Many large corporations have their own staff of employment attorneys.
To succeed in this field, you’ll need excellent people skills and the ability to both establish and maintain relationships of trust and confidence. Those who are being counseled, primarily human resource professionals, need to know that they have a competent and trustworthy advisor they can rely on.
Ultimately, the greatest advantage this practice area offers is its human component. Each case has a unique story, and these stories keep litigators interested in their work even after decades of practice. Although the work can be demanding, employment law is never boring.
While there are many rewarding and positive aspects of employment law, this practice area is not without its challenges.
In addition to providing counsel, lawyers may also find themselves having to temper emotions and prevent situations from escalating into bigger issues. Employers often take harassment or discrimination claims very personally. The employer’s desire to be vindicated can sometimes be a roadblock to a resolution.
While this practice area has room for growth, many litigators claim that in-house law positions are far and few between.
Employment laws themselves are always changing, so lawyers in this field must stay informed. Many litigators enjoy the intellectual challenge and evolving nature of this field, but others may prefer a less-volatile practice area.
Court deadlines can often be demanding, and trials can be exhausting. Many litigators in this field complain that it’s a very adversarial practice area. Opposing counsel is often difficult to work with and confrontational.
Every practice area has its benefits and drawbacks. Employment law is no different. But the human aspect of this field is what attracts most lawyers. It can also be rewarding to help small businesses implement beneficial employment policies and help victims of discrimination obtain the settlements they’re entitled to.