Whether you are a law student or just thinking about a career in law, it can be a daunting task to choose a specialism. These days, it is very unusual to be lawyer with multiple specialisms, as there are so many changes in case law that practitioners cannot keep up with every area. Therefore, choosing a specialism is very important and will forge your future career path. The three top tips that the Cleggs Solicitors team always recommends to students and graduates are: to ensure employment law is the right fit for you, get some training and don’t underestimate the value of experience.
1. Is employment law for me?
Make sure, when you’re thinking about specialising in employment law, that you are actually interested in the area. It sounds like common sense but employment law is fast-paced and cases are often very time-sensitive and need to be resolved as quickly as possible. If a client has an issue they usually don’t have time to waste. As a result, two of the key skills needed to practice employment law are keeping calm under pressure, as there are tight deadlines involved, and good communication skills because dealing with stressed clients is a large part of the job.
You will be speaking with a range of people – from fellow employment lawyers who understand the legal vocabulary to business people who don’t have specialist knowledge and just want the job done.
2. The importance of training seats
The time that you spend investing in training will fundamentally prepare you for qualification into employment law and, as part of your employment training seat, we would highly recommend securing as many opportunities to learn as possible. Finding someone with a wealth of experience in employment law to shadow for a few days is a fantastic way to gain inside knowledge and further cement the areas you enjoy most. Also, some tribunal hearing centres offer a judiciary shadowing programme so that students can get experience of their local tribunal; watch a hearing and find out what it’s all about.
3. Experience is key
The most valuable piece of advice we can offer is to get as much experience as you can. We recommend sitting in as many tribunal hearings as possible as they are great exposure to employment law in action. The experience of sitting in the tribunal room and starting to understand the process of a tribunal, what questions are regularly asked, what the panel looks like and so on will not only help confirm your interest in employment law but also provide invaluable knowledge when qualified. As most tribunal cases are public hearings, you just need to ring your local tribunal to see if there is a case in the list that you can go and observe.
You can’t teach experience, and putting in the time to research all aspects of employment law, seeking out training opportunities and grabbing any learning experience with both hands will put you in a much stronger position when you qualify and become a fully-fledged employment lawyer.