Top Tips from Employment Attorneys that You Can Apply to Your Practice

This is the second in an occasional series of TOP TIPS from attorneys with specific practice areas. Their wisdom reaches beyond a specific sector and probably bears relevance to your practice as well. Follow these insightful reminders to strengthen your relationships with clients and manage interactions with opposing counsel.

We turn to attorneys with an employment practice, building on the October article with advice from lawyers with a family law, matrimonial law, mediation or divorce practice. Consider this guidance for a hypothetical new associate who has joined their firm after three years in a different field of law.

According to Erica DyReyes, whose firm Employee Relations Consulting, LLC is based in Haddonfield, NJ, “It’s most important that you understand the client’s business. You are a partner with them and you advise them consistent with their needs and goals. Plus, you always need to be able to provide your client with options, explaining the pros and cons of each one. The pros and cons are not just strictly legal considerations, but also considerations around employee perception and fairness. In most cases, the client will make the final decision, aware of the pros and cons of each option.”

As a next step, team up with the client and prepare for difficult situations, as suggested by Carol Harding. “You should encourage clients to seek advice from the firm any time an employee requests leave or an accommodation, anytime an employee makes a complaint about possible harassment or discrimination in the workplace, and anytime it appears that an employee will need to be let go. In all of these circumstances, relatively minimal legal assistance can prevent costly liability in the future.”

Take the preventative approach and be proactive, Harding explains further. “Encourage clients to do an audit of their basic HR procedures and documents to ensure they have an employee handbook and that it is up to date, to ensure that their anti-discrimination and drug testing policies comply with cannabis legislation reforms, and to ensure that any basic forms they maintain, such as job applications, conform with current laws.” Harding’s office at Earp Cohn is in Cherry Hill, NJ.

As Andrea Kirshenbaum notes, there is an additional component to employment matters, from the perspective of both the employer and the employee. “People are emotionally invested in where they work and what they do. While, of course, the workplace is a professional environment, both employers and employees often have strong feelings about what happens there. Employers that are accused of mistreatment take those allegations very seriously. It is critical that attorneys who represent employers rely on their emotional intelligence to help navigate the often tricky emotional waters. Employers are not nameless, faceless entities; they are comprised of people whose conduct is being challenged in a publicly filed lawsuit. It is essential to appreciate the humanity of the situation and to manage the case with this in mind.” Kirshenbaum practices at Post & Schell, P.C. in Philadelphia.

Similarly, Mandy Rosenblum emphasizes the personal nature of speaking with clients involved in employment cases. “When a client comes to you with a problem, it’s often because they have or anticipate a problem at work . You must avoid the tendency to focus on the law and remember that your client likely has feelings about what is happening. Listen carefully to your clients, consider how they may feel about the matter as you speak, and be kind and patient.”

Rosenblum also weighs in on the relationship with opposing counsel. “How you conduct yourself with opposing counsel can make or break you. Your decisions can impact your client’s case and those of future clients, and your reputation as an attorney. You should also remember that your opponent may someday be a referral source. Follow the Golden Rule and always act professionally and be respectful in your interactions with opposing counsel.” The Law Office of Mandy C. Rosenblum is located in Bryn Mawr,

In sum, find ways to team up with clients, by understanding their business and helping them get their affairs in order to forestall any employment-related matters. Be readily available to advise them and endeavor to see the situation through a lens with emotional capability. Remember that positive relationships with opposing counsel may lead to future referrals.

Consider how you may apply this wise counsel to your own practice, whether litigation or transactional. Aligning yourself with clients and recognizing their personal stake in a matter can go a long way on the course of a satisfying and successful legal practice.

Janet Falk is a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professional at Falk Communications and Research. She offers members of WOL a review of their Public Relations and Marketing activities in a Complimentary 30-minute consultation. She guarantees TWO Ideas.


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