Employment lawyers help resolve legal issues between employers and their employees, such as those involving wages, workplace safety, discrimination, and harassment. These attorneys should preferably complete employment law classes while in law school.
Employment lawyers provide legal representation in cases involving workplace disputes or alleged wrongful workplace activity. Common employment law cases include unjustified termination, workers compensation, workplace discrimination, and work environment health and safety issues. Those who want to become a lawyer need to complete a professional law degree program after they earn their undergraduate degree. Aspiring employment lawyers may complete specialty courses in that area. Law school graduates also need to be licensed by passing their state bar exam.
|Required Education||Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree|
|Other Requirements||Admittance to the bar|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||6% for all lawyers|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$115,820 for all lawyers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employment lawyers represent employees or employers in lawsuits involving the workplace. Examples of employment-related legal issues include alleged wrongful termination and workplace discrimination. Lawyers work mostly in law offices and courtrooms, occasionally researching in law libraries. Full-time lawyers may have long workdays. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most lawyers work longer than full-time hours (www.bls.gov). Employment lawyers may work for a specific business, out of a private practice office or for the government.
Employment lawyers execute common litigation activities, including negotiation, legal writing, oral advocacy and counseling. These professionals must have a working knowledge of the legal principles that govern the employer-employee relationship. Employment lawyers must understand laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and workers compensation laws. Employment lawyers may be hired to represent employers or employees in unemployment cases, pension disputes, benefit claims and contract disagreements.
Students on the employment lawyer career track first obtain an undergraduate degree and then attend law school for about three years. During law school, students are typically required to take general law classes, but should also take electives that focus on employment law. Besides basic employment law, related classes may include labor law, public law, business law, social justice and public interest law. Once students graduate, they will have to pass the bar exam and be admitted to the bar before being allowed to practice law.
Salary Information and Career Outlook
According to May 2015 statistics from the BLS, the median annual salary for all lawyers was $115,820. The BLS also projects that the job market for lawyers will grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024.
An employment lawyer handles workplace disputes or lawsuits. Interviewing and legal research are the main duties they perform. Lawyers in general must graduate from college and then law school, after which licensure is required.