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3 things every new employment lawyer should know

3 things every new employment lawyer should know


If you're new to employment law, you might find yourself asking what it takes to be successful. Employment law is a complex area with a broad range of legislation to consider, industrial instruments to understand and case law to get your head around – not to mention often complicated factual scenarios with no two clients' cases ever being the same.

We asked a group of employment lawyers the three things they think every lawyer new to employment law should know in order to be successful.

1. Understand how employment contracts interact with the Fair Work Act and industrial instruments

Rather than being a single source of rights and obligations in employment, contracts now have to be read in conjunction with other legislation and industrial instruments, including modern awards. It's important to remember that these can change over time – modern awards in particular. Keeping up with changes and ensuring you are looking at the correct instruments is crucial to providing accurate advice to your client. It is also essential for employment lawyers to stay on top of any amendments to industrial instruments, which can change your client's entitlements under their employment contract and can effectively make or break a case.

2. Have a working knowledge of tax, privacy and superannuation law

Like many areas of practice, employment law intersects with a range of other areas of law. A good working knowledge of these areas will help you stand out from the crowd and ensure your advice to clients takes into account all relevant considerations. For example, what seems like a fantastic solution from an employment law perspective may lead to significant and onerous tax consequences for your client. It's particularly important for employment lawyers to be across the basics of tax, privacy and superannuation. Knowing these areas can also help you identify the most commercially appropriate solution to an issue.

3. Know your clients and work collaboratively with them

It goes without saying that legal work is client-centric, and that no matter how good you may be at the technical side of things you also need to be good at working with people – all the more so if you are an employment lawyer. Your ability to work collaboratively with your clients, with an understanding of their needs and challenges, is a core skill which when employed effectively can assist you to develop longstanding relationships and a stable client base into the future.  

Looking to develop your skills and experience in employment law? The LIV is holding an interactive and practical Employment Law Fundamentals workshop on Monday 27 February, which will arm participants with the critical skills required to be successful in employment law.

For more proficient/advanced lawyers seeking CPD in this area, check out our Employment Law Half Day program on Friday 24 March.

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