BY: Joan Rennekamp
LEWIS ROCA ROTHGERBER CHRISTIE
In mid- to large-size organizations, outside legal counsel is often asked to assist with employment litigation or to provide guidance to internal HR departments about general employment matters. When it comes to working collaboratively with human resource directors and other staff, circumstances can be either frustrating or mutually rewarding, depending on your approach. Outside legal counsel can follow a few guidelines for collaborating with your client’s HR department on important litigation matters, training and organizational strategy — while building a more fruitful working relationship.
UNDERSTAND THE CREDENTIALS OF YOUR HR COUNTERPART
Some human resources leaders have a master’s degree (or higher) and significant experience in the field. Others get promoted to the position with no credentials or experience at all and even more often, a finance director or other leader is assigned “HR responsibilities” without having a full understanding of the role and responsibilities. Before you begin to work together, take some time to understand the depth of knowledge and the credentials of the HR person. Do they have a certification from the Human Resources Certifying Institute or the Society for Human Resource Management? Do they have experience at the same type of employer they are working for now (for-profit, nonprofit, school, religious, etc.)? Have they been in a leadership role before, or is this the first time? What type of large projects have they worked on in the past? Have they been through the litigation process?