We’re often asked this question and which one is best?
Having got over the upsetting fact the average solicitor earns more than we do 😊 I thought I’d provide a fuller answer…
First thing – if you’re an employer facing a claim for unfair dismissal from a former employee you paid over £120k pa – call me and I’ll give you the details of a good solicitor!
OK, to the more usual state of affairs…
One of the first differences is cost – solicitors tend to have higher costs eg more prestigous premises and their professional indemnity insurance can represent 5% of their fees so their costs tend to be higher – before they’ve done any work.
The consultant is likely to have spent many years in the thick of it, dealing with employee challenges within organisations – large and small.
They will likely have a proactive approach to managing your people and workforce. We would expect that they translate theory into practice for you (most consultants are CIPD qualified like us), helping you to implement best practice and supporting you to respond reactively to issues which arrive.
You can expect that the consultant will undertake continuous professional development such as attending employment law updates and CIPD workshops. They’re unlikely to have a law degree but they should have a working knowledge of the law and how it’s applied in the workplace.
An Employment Lawyer is a specialist, someone who has a law degree. More than just the law degree they know the law. They know how the law is administered and will have spent much time studying the application of law to the workplace.
He or she is the expert yto consult when considering action which may result in litigation. They are the expert who keeps up to date with complex legislation, sometimes conflicting legislation. They will advise on your exposure to risk and how best to reduce your exposure.
There are areas where consultants and lawyers can cross over. For example, you’ll find both may prepare contracts of employment, both may advise on disciplinary matters. There are areas where they might work together in a complimentary way. For example, in a recent TUPE situation, our client engaged a solicitor to draw up the transfer agreements and draft correspondence to staff. We then supported to hold consultation meetings with the impacted employees.
Ultimately it’s your choice which professional to use. We believe that your professional adviser, whether a consultant or lawyer, should provide you with a cost effective solution, while still mitigating risk and ensuring compliance.