Employment law covers all legal matters related to employees in the workplace. Employment lawyers are involved in ensuring that the right procedures are used for hiring, managing employee relations, handling disputes between employers and their employees, and the cessation of employment contracts.
Employment law is constantly evolving as is therefore a dynamic career path to choose. The work is jurisdiction-specific and can broadly be split between two main areas – contentious and non-contentious.
The non-contentious area can be categorised further as legislation, rules and regulations, policies and processes to be followed, and governing or regulatory authorities. Contentious employment law, meanwhile will cover breach in compliance with established principles, disputes on a variety of issues such as discrimination, remuneration, career growth, employer negligence and culpability, employee liability, and misdemeanor.
Some employment lawyers specialise in private service, while others focus on public sector work. Other specialisms include employer/employee relations, conflicts, and individual versus group/class related matters.
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Day-to-day responsibilities might include:
- Advising clients on aspects of the law relating to their case.
- Researching documents and previous cases to create legal arguments.
- Drafting or preparing legal documentation, such as contracts or claims.
- Conducting negotiations on behalf of clients.
- Ensuring that agreements are implemented.
- If the case reaches court, representing clients or instructing barristers on the case.
- Taking instructions from clients.
- Supervising the training of junior employment lawyers.
You will need to follow the solicitor qualification route to practice as an employment lawyer. You will need either a law degree or an alternative undergraduate degree and a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Many universities offer modules that specialise in employment law. You will then need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and a two-year training contract.
Experienced Legal Associates can progress their career in employment law by studying for the Advanced Certificate in Employment Law, accredited by the CiPD, which will really help an application spark the interest of prospective employers.
Communication skills: You will need to be able to explain legal matters and advice to clients clearly and concisely. You will also need to have the confidence to represent clients in court.
Written communication skills: A good standard of written English is essential for preparing legal documents and drafting contracts.
Attention to detail: A high level of accuracy is important for research and in the preparation of documents.
Negotiation skills: Essential for reaching the best outcome for your clients.
Research skills: Important for exploring certain parts of employment law further and finding examples from previous cases.
Organisation: You will need the ability to manage a heavy workload.
Problem solving skills: A logical approach is important in forming solid legal arguments.
Dedication: You will need to be self-motivated and committed to your career path as the qualification route is tough and can take several years to complete.
Starting salary: £20,000 to £30,000
Experienced: £30,000 to £75,000
Figures are intended as a guide.
As you build up experience, you will take on more responsibility, such as supervising new trainees. As a qualified solicitor, you will have the potential to become a partner if you work in private practice. If you work for a commercial firm, you could progress to a managerial position.
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