FindLaw's Guide to Achieving Legal and Human Resources Harmony

By William Peacock, Esq. on May 21, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ah, the life of in-house counsel. You were hired after a decade in a BigLaw, tackling transactional work. Now, in addition to structuring your company’s big moves, you handle everything else, from IP protection to litigation, including employment disputes.

Now consider your Human Resources personnel. They probably aren’t lawyers, yet everything they do is governed by some important law. Heath plan administration? HIPPA. Hiring and on-boarding? More laws than we care to list. Discipline and termination? Ditto, both at the state and the federal level.

They aren’t lawyers. You are. Even if you aren’t an employment law guru, you’ve got your work cut out for you. A great place to start is the brief (and free) FindLaw Guide to Counseling the Human Resources Department.

What it Covers

Functions of the HR Department -- a brief overview of what HR handles, including compensation and benefits, training and development, and relations with labor organizations.

HR Laws and Regulations -- an outline of how the law interacts with the HR functions (hint: a lot). From the time of recruiting to termination, from the highs of hiring bright minds to the lows of disciplining underachievers and dealing with harassment complaints, there are an infinite number of cases, statutes, and regulations that need to be accounted for.

Paperwork and Compliance -- Employee handbooks. Sexual harassment and nondiscrimination policies. Procedures for handing Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations and time off under the Family Medical Leave Act. Even if your company has policies in place, there needs to be a system for reviewing and revising these policies to reflect ever-changing laws, such as social media issues, unpaid internships, or background checks.

Other Resources

The five page guide is a great primer for new in-house attorneys, or a refresher for seasoned vets looking to update their HR policies. Beyond the guide, we'd also recommend keeping an eye on this blog (of course) and checking out our Corporate Counsel Center, which includes a section dealing with these and other employment law issues.

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