The changing landscape of employment lawyers in London.

by Hudson Mckenzie Lawyers and Solicitors who understand you

With numerous technological enhancements and the influence of globalisation on corporates needs leading to a change in client requirements, experts explore the shifting role of the employment lawyers in London in this changing environment.

In the late 1980s, in the initials days of career, employment lawyers were an uncommon strain in the UK and those who specialised in this domain worked almost completely in private practice in a small number of firms, mostly in London.  “Employment departments” as such were largely rare; almost all of us were members of either the litigation or corporate commercial departments of legal firms.

As the demand rose for specialist advice, thus smaller law firms across the country realised the opportunity to come with specialist practices of their own, and employment lawyers became a feature of most commercial firms.

Even then, employment was an area in which many lawyers experimented, without it accounting for the majority of their work.  This was possible when the body of law affecting employment was much smaller and also less complex. Beginning roughly in the late 1990s (with the advent of a number of EU-inspired laws, particularly in the area of discrimination) there has been a veritable explosion of regulation impacting the workplace, which has made dabbling in the field very much more difficult than it was.

It is exciting to understand how this has been reflected in the corporate environment. Back in the day it was uncommon to find human resources directors sitting on the main boards of companies.  Nowadays, such is the importance (and cost) of workforces, it would be rare to find a corporation of any size where the HR director’s seat is not a board level post.

As employment law practices have grown-up and employment law has become more complicated, a new role has been development in many of the more developed practices: that of professional support or professional development lawyer – a skilled employment practitioner who is no longer client-facing but supports colleagues in ensuring that they keep on top of this rapidly changing area of law. With the welter of case reports, employment legal publications, analyses, blogs and so on now available on the web, having such support has become ever-more essential if one is going to be able to keep abreast of the myriad developments in the field of employment law.

In recent times, another modification has arisen from the openness of information on the internet. It has progressively became less tenable to charge for providing some of the rough information employment lawyers have learnt over many years but that is now often publicly available for free. As a result, employment lawyers in London have needed to develop to add value beyond being sources of “textbook” information for their clients.

Gradually, law firms have recognised the benefits from part-time and other more flexible working methodologies, which technology now makes easier, and have accepted these. For instance, like many firms, many companies now have employment partners working four-day weeks and associates who job-share.

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Created on Apr 24th 2018 01:33. Viewed 538 times.


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