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Employment Law Careers: Help Companies With Their Workforces

If they were in the same state, Mike Maslanka might face off with another JD Careers Out There guest, Donna Ballman, in employment law cases. Mike represents employers, while Donna represents employees.

Contrary to the assumption that employer-side employment lawyers represent the bad guys who are hurting the little people, Mike says that for the most part these types of lawyers help clients care for their workforces. The human element of employment law careers is what attracts Mike and others to this career path. Find out if it might interest you too:
  Join JD Careers Out There for access to this video plus more day-in-the-life career path interview videos & transcripts.

Today’s Guest

Employment Attorney Mike MaslankaEmployment Lawyer (Employer Side) Mike Maslanka
Title: Partner, Fisher Broyles
City: Dallas, TX
Law School: Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, LA
College: Cornell University in Ithaca, NY
Other Careers: Mike is also an Assistant Professor of Law at UNT Dallas College of Law. He loves teaching, writing and sharing advice. In fact, he’s also an award-winning blogger for Texas Lawyer.
Videos: Corporate Employment Lawyer & Mike’s Career Advice

Employment Law Careers

Employment lawyers representing employers don’t simply defend corporations from lawsuits in court; they also spend a lot of time counseling clients on policies and issues as they arise. Mike shares a lot of great, real-life examples to show what employment law careers are really like – including what types of law firms offer practices in this niche and what kind of income you can expect.

In the full interview, Mike also shares some great tips on connecting with different types of lawyers for networking and breaking into any field of law, whether employment law or otherwise. Watch the interview to hear his insights.



This is a preview of the video transcript on working in employment law.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career guidance video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone – welcome to JD CareersOutThere. Today we’re looking at careers in employment law – specifically the path of being a lawyer representing employers. We’re got a great guest with us today to tell you all about this career path, so stick around! [theme song]

Alright – as you may already know, at JDCOT we explore career paths you can do with a law degree – both in and out of law. And we do this to help you find a career that fits you and help you succeed.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today’s guest is Mike Maslanka. He’s an employment lawyer practicing in Dallas, Texas where he’s a partner with Constangy Brooks and Smith representing employers. Mike’s been listed as one of the top hundred lawyers in Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers as well as one of the best lawyers in Dallas for 10 years in a row by D Magazine and he’s an author of several books and he’s got an award winning blog called Work Matters.

Mike’s going to let us know all about employment law careers – so let’s meet Mike. Mike, welcome to JDCOT!

Mike Maslanka: Great to be here, Marc, thanks very much.

Luber: Mike, I’m going to ask you to tell us all about a typical day and who fits this path best, what type of personality and skill sets and then we’re going to talk about how to break in and how to succeed. But first let’s start with the basics, tell us about your practice and what you do as an employment lawyer.

Mike Maslanka: Well I’m an employment lawyer and I represent companies, just exclusively employers. Sometimes large, mid size companies, small companies. And the transcendent message I want to get across to those who are interested in this is that we really help them manage their workforces – because if you’re not managing the workforce, the workforce is managing you. And there are a lot of different ways to do that.

You have to make sure the client understands the law, you have to make sure the client understands the nature of their workforce and the one thing that really is absolutely crucial to bring to bear, and I say this as an employment lawyer representing companies, is to make sure that you have a sense of fairness.

It’s very important for employment lawyers to have that and to train their clients, to bring them to their own wisdom so that when they make decisions about employees, it’s based on facts and it’s based on numbers, but at the end of the day it’s really based on what is fair; what is fair to the company but also what is fair to the employee.

That may surprise some people, but employment lawyers who represent companies do in fact have a heart – and employers, HR people, do in fact have a heart too.

So in a sense, that’s what I do: manage the workforce, don’t let them mange you.

Companies that are smart understand that good employees are productive employees. And having a good, productive employee – it’s just like money in the bank – and they need to treat it that way. And one of my jobs is if they don’t have that sense already, to try to help impart that sensibility to them.

Luber: What are some of the types of fact patterns that you might deal with, that you might see on a daily basis so that someone can get an idea of, “OK, that’s the kind of thing I’m dealing with when I’m an employment lawyer”.

Mike Maslanka: Sure, let me give you two or three examples.

One example, I represent a national restaurant chain. And one of the issues that has come up is a Seventh Day Adventist. He converted to that religion, he was an incumbent manager, is they have certain religious requirements with respect to working on weekends. Well, how do you accommodate that? Does the law require an accommodation? How do you deal with the employee in arriving at an accommodation? Religious discrimination, very interesting stuff.

Then you get the harassment lawsuits, the sexual harassment lawsuits. It’s a question sometimes of…sometimes it’s a question of misunderstanding. Sometimes it’s a question of someone saying, “Well I really didn’t mean to offend someone,” and so you deal with those issues in terms of consulting with your clients.

And then of course sometimes there are lawsuits – and I will in fact represent companies, not just in litigation, but I also try lawsuits. I’ve tried maybe 50 or 60 cases to verdict.

Luber: This is great – there’s so much more for us to cover! We’ll do that in the full interview where you can all hear more from Mike on what it’s like to be an employment lawyer, how to break in to this career path and how to succeed once you’re there.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career path interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people are saying about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2015 Careers Out There

Are you interested in employment law careers? Would you rather represent companies or employees? Be sure to share your feedback in the Comments section below.

Related Careers

More From This Guest

JDCOT's self-reflection questionnaire 


Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.