My major premise is that employment lawyers, whether representing employees or employers, can serve their clients best when they address every client problem or dispute first and foremost with a problem-solving mind-set and using problem-solving approaches. That is what I have tried to do in my practice representing employees, and I believe it has worked well for my clients – and my practice. My second premise is that a problem-solving mind-set and problem solving skills can be learned, even by lawyers who are trained to be litigators.
This paper is a mere introduction to the subject. As mentioned below, many books and articles address the subject in greater detail; I have learned much from reading such materials, and I commend them to other lawyers. Reading such materials has helped me learn not only how to practice better but also how to describe the problem-solving approach to others. Some schools now have courses on problem solving, though they were not available (to the best of my knowledge) when I attended business school law and law school. In addition to reading, I have learned much from my own day-to-day experiences representing and problem solving for many thousands of employees over the past 35 years.
Admittedly, much of this paper addresses the subject primarily from the perspective of a lawyer representing employees. The comments in this paper are based on that experience and perspective; that is the prism through which I view employment law and employment law practice. I hope and believe, however, that many of the concepts and approaches described here can be relevant and helpful to lawyers who represent employers and to other lawyers in the field of employment law.
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