Monday, February 20, 2017

Good employment lawyers vs. great employment lawyers

Grading papers for my employment law class forced me to think through what separated the good papers from the great papers; and then, that got me thinking "what separates great employment lawyers from good employment lawyers?" Here's what I came up with:

Good employment lawyers take the law and apply it to your business. Great employment lawyers take your business and mold it to the law. 

"Great empty platitude!" you exclaim as you rush to make the motivational posters with that slogan printed over a lighthouse. Okay, okay - let's use an example.

Employer

An employer goes to an employment lawyer and explains that she has two employees that work 60 hours per week for $10/hour (so she pays them each $600/week or $1,200/week combined).

Good employment lawyer

The good employment lawyer focuses on the law and how to comply with it. The good employment lawyer immediately spots the problem here: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires the employer to pay its employees overtime at a rate of 150% of their regular rate for hours over 40 worked in a workweek.

The good employment lawyer politely explains that the employer must pay each employee $15/hour for the last 20 hours of each work week, or $700/week each for a total of $1,400/week combined. The employer can comply with the FLSA for just $200 extra per week - Problem solved!

Great employment lawyer

The great employment lawyer focuses on the business, and how to get the work done, while still complying with the law. The great employer immediately spots an alternative solution. If the employer hires a third worker, then the three employees will each work 40 hours and the employer will not have to pay any overtime premium. The cost is $1,200/week for all three. In other words, the employer still gets the same productivity (120 hours of work) at the same cost, but now she is also complying with the FLSA.

(Yes, I know - the super duper lawyer will note the costs and risks associated with bringing on a third employee beyond his or her wage - but for purposes of illustration, this simplistic example will do.)

A great employment lawyer focuses on your business and understands how to best fit your work into the legal framework.