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Employment Attorney: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 17, 2019

Employment attorneys require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Any financial issue or breach of a person's legal rights at work, made into a lawsuit, is typically represented by an employment attorney. Like other lawyers, they have to embark on the same educational quest: college, law school, and licensure. While in law school, one may look into doing an internship in an employment law clinic to become familiar with that area.

Essential Information

Employment attorneys represent employees and employers in cases often involving disputes over wages, work safety, harassment and discrimination. Prospective employment lawyers typically spend four years in an undergraduate degree program and three years in law school. All states require attorneys to pass a state bar examination to practice any form of law.

Required Education Juris Doctor degree
Other Requirements License required in all states
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for all lawyers
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $120,910 for all lawyers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Attorney Job Description

Thousands of federal and state regulations exist which govern the nation's employment practices. Employment attorneys work to uphold or improve them, when necessary. Employment lawyers protect the rights of workers and defend company interests, often arguing for fair compensation, adequate safety standards and reasonable employee relations from both sides of the table.

Employment attorneys often support legislation to expand laws which promote anti-discrimination practices, further regulation in the private sector or protect immigrant laborers. Working in a variety of settings, including private offices, courthouses and corporate boardrooms, full-time employment lawyers may be expected to work long and irregular hours. Tasked with detective-like duties, such as conducting interviews and research, employment attorneys should have a well-balanced repertoire of analytical and communication skills.

Requirements for Employment Attorneys

Education Requirements

While a bachelor's degree is required, prospective attorneys may major in any field. Undergraduate areas of study, such as political science, history, public policy and English, boost oral and written communication, research, analytical and reading comprehension skills. Law schools admit applicants based on Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores, undergraduate transcripts and, at times, admissions interviews. Upon completion of law school students earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.

Law school curricula provides a broad base of foundational courses, including criminal and constitutional law, legal research and writing. These courses prepare students for an area of specialization. Some law schools require clinics or opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience under the tutelage of practicing lawyers and faculty. Prospective employment lawyers, in addition to mock trials and other experiential learning programs, may participate in employment law or civil rights clinics.

Licensing Requirements

In order to practice, prospective attorneys must be licensed by passing a state bar exam. Like most legal professions, employment attorneys require a significant amount of research to remain informed of legislation, policy changes and regulations surrounding employment law. Attorneys practicing employment law must stay current with employment rights and responsibilities mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $208,000 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $58,220 or less per year. Employment opportunities in the field are expected to grow as fast as the national average from 2018-2028.

An employment lawyer seeks to attain mutually acceptable resolution between employer and employee, whether it concerns wages, discrimination, harassment, safety, or other issues. Conducting interviews and performing extensive research are usually expected.

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