What I’m about to say will shock some folks, anger others, and maybe deservedly draw a “Duh” from pragmatists: many of employers’ workplace compliance needs can be more cost-effectively met through excellent HR practitioners, rather than attorneys. And I feel strongly about making compliance affordable for employers, especially small to mid-sized ones. For example, about two weeks ago, a rapidly growing Colorado employer called for information about the legal differences between employees and independent contractors. I introduced this employer to an excellent HR consulting firm, which hooked this employer up with a handbook, a form and FAQ library, counseling services, and lots of other good stuff. “You don’t have a Merrily problem yet,” I told the employer. “If one comes up, your outsourced HR partner knows when to get me involved . . . now, I hope I never hear from you again.” For many small to mid-sized employers, this model seems to work better than what I observed/experienced at Biglaw firms, which often provide really expensive solutions to more minor people problems. Besides, the vast majority of workplace people problems should never become legal ones.
Further, many small to mid-sized employers reach me because a people problem has already degenerated into an EEOC charge or litigation. Employers of this size simply get too bogged down with on-going operational stuff to pay attention to their personnel practices, until it’s too late. As unpleasant as these experiences are for the employer, however, they ALWAYS offer positive opportunities to refine personnel practices to reduce future risk. From our perspective, HR consultants fulfill an important rehabilitative role.
Again, as crazy as it sounds coming from an attorney, I’d like to learn more about what services your firm and you offer, and how you help employers. Further, EEO Legal Solutions offers a FREE (often HRCI-accredited) webinar each month, and moderates the Small Employer Education Network (SEEN) on LinkedIn, resources that may also help your clients stay in compliance. I’ve heard grumblings from the HR community that working with attorneys historically has been unpleasant and/or bad business: the attorneys have not reciprocated referrals or they have completely poached clients. I get it. But, EEO Legal Solutions is hardly a traditional law firm: we aim to make compliance affordable, to enable employers to fight when they’re right, and to underwrite inclusiveness initiatives that will fulfill Title VII’s promises far faster than litigation.