Switching from Law to HR

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SFB222
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Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:23 pm

Switching from Law to HR

Postby SFB222 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:18 pm

Question...I'm currently a 3-4 year attorney at a firm looking to switch to the human resources field (apparently lots of employee relations roles are filled with former law firm attorneys). Is this a risky move? Am I switching law for another field that will be equally dissatisfying? Is this a good career route or should I stick it out and go in-house long run?

BeenDidThat
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Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: Switching from Law to HR

Postby BeenDidThat » Sat Jun 27, 2015 12:49 am

We can't answer this for you without knowing your goals and what makes you tick.

071816
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Re: Switching from Law to HR

Postby 071816 » Sat Jun 27, 2015 12:51 am

hr is a bullshit field

Anonymous User
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Re: Switching from Law to HR

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 27, 2015 7:04 am

I worked in HR at a large bank before law school. There is a lot of compliance stuff HR deals with, trying to avoid employment discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits, so if you work in employment law there is some overlap.

I really enjoyed working in HR. Some people don't respect HR, but it is a professional field that requires a unique skill set. Depending one what type of HR you do (recruiting, benefits, compliance, HRIS, generalist), an HR executive can have a big impact on the way a company functions - but generally it is a support function. You will likely have a lot of work pushed on you by people on the "business side" that just want a problem to go away or just want to get something done. Nothing is more frustrating than when the business says: we're reorganizing the corporate structure in a way that doesn't make sense and decreases efficiency. Sometimes you can fight the chance, other times you modify your systems and processes to adjust to their dumbass new structure. Sometimes the business wants to hire a person (or 20 people) and the person/people they like fail the companies minimum qualifications or some other background check item the company has a policy against - thats a fight usually HR will win, but it doesn't mean the business group will like you. One final downside to HR - this might depend on where you do it - but at the company I worked for, it seemed that many VP and executive level HR positions were hired from non-HR fields. There is a belief that business experts in other fields can do HR well, this can be true in many cases. So Employee Relations type roles (performance, discipline, termination, equal opportunity employment management) are often filled by lawyers - compensation and payroll management are often filled by people with finance or technical backgrounds. Other HR functions (recruiting, training) are more commonly filled with people from within HR.

There are a lot of good parts of HR too. You pay people, and most employees like that. HR also does a lot of corporate initiatives and trainings that employees usually like and there is usually opportunity, (again depending on your role in HR) to work with lots of different people from different areas of a business ranging from the executives down to entry level employees. HR colleagues are also usually the nicest people to work with. These are people who choose HR, which means they are generally very personable and they like helping other people (HR is a support function). This is by far the best part of working in HR. Your co-workers will almost definitely be very accommodating and understandings and genuinely nice people to work with.

TL;DR: I really liked HR. It doesn't always get a ton of respect from peers, but it is a really great environment to work in.

Anonymous User
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Re: Switching from Law to HR

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 27, 2015 5:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I worked in HR at a large bank before law school. There is a lot of compliance stuff HR deals with, trying to avoid employment discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits, so if you work in employment law there is some overlap.

I really enjoyed working in HR. Some people don't respect HR, but it is a professional field that requires a unique skill set. Depending one what type of HR you do (recruiting, benefits, compliance, HRIS, generalist), an HR executive can have a big impact on the way a company functions - but generally it is a support function. You will likely have a lot of work pushed on you by people on the "business side" that just want a problem to go away or just want to get something done. Nothing is more frustrating than when the business says: we're reorganizing the corporate structure in a way that doesn't make sense and decreases efficiency. Sometimes you can fight the chance, other times you modify your systems and processes to adjust to their dumbass new structure. Sometimes the business wants to hire a person (or 20 people) and the person/people they like fail the companies minimum qualifications or some other background check item the company has a policy against - thats a fight usually HR will win, but it doesn't mean the business group will like you. One final downside to HR - this might depend on where you do it - but at the company I worked for, it seemed that many VP and executive level HR positions were hired from non-HR fields. There is a belief that business experts in other fields can do HR well, this can be true in many cases. So Employee Relations type roles (performance, discipline, termination, equal opportunity employment management) are often filled by lawyers - compensation and payroll management are often filled by people with finance or technical backgrounds. Other HR functions (recruiting, training) are more commonly filled with people from within HR.

There are a lot of good parts of HR too. You pay people, and most employees like that. HR also does a lot of corporate initiatives and trainings that employees usually like and there is usually opportunity, (again depending on your role in HR) to work with lots of different people from different areas of a business ranging from the executives down to entry level employees. HR colleagues are also usually the nicest people to work with. These are people who choose HR, which means they are generally very personable and they like helping other people (HR is a support function). This is by far the best part of working in HR. Your co-workers will almost definitely be very accommodating and understandings and genuinely nice people to work with.

TL;DR: I really liked HR. It doesn't always get a ton of respect from peers, but it is a really great environment to work in.


+1. Also the quality of your work in HR / how people value your role at your company varies depending on how much value the company places on HR. Usually you can tell whether HR is a strategic business function or a support function by looking at the corporate structure. E.g. Companies that have HR execs reporting directly to the CEO vs. those that function as a subsection of Legal or Complaince, etc.

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Yea All Right
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Re: Switching from Law to HR

Postby Yea All Right » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:19 pm

If you don't want to make too much of a change, you could switch to HR within a law firm. I've seen biglaw recruiting directors/managers with experience as a biglaw associate.

Anonymous User
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Re: Switching from Law to HR

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 28, 2015 1:47 pm

I worked in HR at a large bank before law school. There is a lot of compliance stuff HR deals with, trying to avoid employment discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits, so if you work in employment law there is some overlap.

I really enjoyed working in HR. Some people don't respect HR, but it is a professional field that requires a unique skill set. Depending one what type of HR you do (recruiting, benefits, compliance, HRIS, generalist), an HR executive can have a big impact on the way a company functions - but generally it is a support function. You will likely have a lot of work pushed on you by people on the "business side" that just want a problem to go away or just want to get something done. Nothing is more frustrating than when the business says: we're reorganizing the corporate structure in a way that doesn't make sense and decreases efficiency. Sometimes you can fight the chance, other times you modify your systems and processes to adjust to their dumbass new structure. Sometimes the business wants to hire a person (or 20 people) and the person/people they like fail the companies minimum qualifications or some other background check item the company has a policy against - thats a fight usually HR will win, but it doesn't mean the business group will like you. One final downside to HR - this might depend on where you do it - but at the company I worked for, it seemed that many VP and executive level HR positions were hired from non-HR fields. There is a belief that business experts in other fields can do HR well, this can be true in many cases. So Employee Relations type roles (performance, discipline, termination, equal opportunity employment management) are often filled by lawyers - compensation and payroll management are often filled by people with finance or technical backgrounds. Other HR functions (recruiting, training) are more commonly filled with people from within HR.

There are a lot of good parts of HR too. You pay people, and most employees like that. HR also does a lot of corporate initiatives and trainings that employees usually like and there is usually opportunity, (again depending on your role in HR) to work with lots of different people from different areas of a business ranging from the executives down to entry level employees. HR colleagues are also usually the nicest people to work with. These are people who choose HR, which means they are generally very personable and they like helping other people (HR is a support function). This is by far the best part of working in HR. Your co-workers will almost definitely be very accommodating and understandings and genuinely nice people to work with.

TL;DR: I really liked HR. It doesn't always get a ton of respect from peers, but it is a really great environment to work in.


+1. Also the quality of your work in HR / how people value your role at your company varies depending on how much value the company places on HR. Usually you can tell whether HR is a strategic business function or a support function by looking at the corporate structure. E.g. Companies that have HR execs reporting directly to the CEO vs. those that function as a subsection of Legal or Complaince, etc.


I am the poster with the long answer. At my company, we did have a structure like described. The head of HR reported directly to the CEO and was a member of the "management group" of the company which was comprised of 7 or so executives that headed up each division. So my company probably treated HR as a more of a strategic function than some other companies. It depends at least to some extent which function within HR you work in. Benefits and payroll are more support functions. Employee relations and HRIS are a mix of both (discipline, legal issues are usually service, but performance management is more strategic; similarly HRIS can do rote reporting or work on more strategic business questions). Compensation, recruiting, and training and development are usually more strategic.

Something to note though, even though at times Employee Relations can be a support function, at my company it was usually staffed with employees at higher levels than some of the other groups. It is probably because the issues Employee Relations deals with are sensitive, confidential, and high impact (both from a business and regulatory perspective). It is a role with a lot of responsibility, and I think most of the people in that role find it very rewarding. Also the work in employee relations can be more dynamic, you deal with issues as they come up and tasks can vary greatly day to day.




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