Keeping up with labor and employment law changes

As many attorneys know firsthand, it’s been a struggle to keep up with the breakneck pace of legal changes over the past year. Labor and employment law is particularly in flux, with so many issues remaining undecided or undetermined. The laws are changing, the facts on the ground are changing, and the administrative guidance is changing.

It’s no wonder why it can feel impossible. There’s good news though: you can keep up – with a little help.

The pandemic prompted issues that will be here to stay

Rules for the workplace were crafted on the presumption that, in most cases, workers would be present in the same physical location. Employers monitored workplace activities and employee conduct relatively easily when the “workplace” was one centralized site.

Now, with so many employees working remotely, enforcing longtime policies has suddenly become more difficult. What’s more, these changes are not likely to revert once the pandemic recedes. Working remotely is poised to become the norm (at least to some extent) – meaning that any accompanying changes to policy, laws, and regulations are similarly here to stay.

Not only that, but the pandemic has uncovered shortfalls in workplace policies in a variety of areas, and labor law and regulations are already shifting. And, with a new administration in the White House, we are likely to see even more policy and regulation changes to come.

How can you be an expert on brand new law?

Even the most experienced attorneys can’t be experts on newly enacted law, changing regulations, or the impact of recent court decisions. It’s impossible to be an expert on something that didn’t exist yesterday. Beyond that, who has time to constantly stay on top of new developments while also continuing to practice law full time? When the landscape has shifted as dramatically as it has over the past year, combined with changes from the new administration, it becomes an unrealistic expectation.

What if you had a whole team of attorneys become experts in new legal and regulatory developments for you? There are legal research tools that do just that. Dedicated attorney editors who stay on top of these and other changes in the legal realm in real time and provide practicing attorneys with updated, accessible resources. Because that’s their full-time job – keeping you informed.

These resources extend far beyond changes related to COVID. Although it has been difficult to think about much else, there have been rapid developments in state and local employment laws – with much of it conflicting across jurisdictions, including:

  • Paid sick leave
  • Paid family leave laws
  • Wage and hour laws
  • Salary history bans
  • Inquiring about criminal backgrounds

Practical Law lays out (and is always updating) the most recent changes and how jurisdictions may differ from one another.

A mentor for new associates

New associates may not know all the relevant laws in a practice area, nor have access to the correct standard forms and documents. For new associates, or anyone unfamiliar with a practice area, Practical Law also offers incredibly helpful guidance. For example, overview practice notes are a great starting point for new attorneys trying to get the lay of the land.

As attorneys around them become busier, they might not know who to turn to for the answers they need. With the right online legal resources, they have easy access to critical legal know-how. From updated standard documents and clauses to checklists and practice notes, they will get the guidance they need.

It’s not just new associates who need extra guidance

No one was an expert on the Family First Coronavirus Response Act because it was a brand new, complex piece of legislation. And very few busy lawyers have the time necessary to dive in so they can quickly become the expert they want to be. The Practical Law attorney editors do this for you by looking at all of this in tremendous detail and then creating usable, digestible resources for you to access.

Labor and employment law is a vast practice area with subspecialties within subspecialties. Some of those may be more familiar than others. For instance, when an immigration matter is combined with an employment law matter, you may need a little extra help knowing where to begin and what questions to ask.

Any attorney venturing outside of their comfort zone will feel more confident taking on new cases when they know they have access to everything they need. Whether it’s keeping a client you already have or actively growing your practice, knowing you have access to expert guidance – particularly in areas you may not feel like an expert – is invaluable.

Get access to a team of attorneys waiting to help you

With the frequency and speed of legal changes, every attorney needs a little extra assistance staying up to date. See how Practical Law and its team of full-time attorney editors can help you with the research and expertise needed to successfully navigate the shifting legal terrain.

Janelle B. Smith

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