New Zealand Law Society - Empathy key to employment law success

Empathy key to employment law success

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“Empathy” is a personality trait fundamental to a great employment lawyer, according to Dundas Street’s newest staff member, David Traylor.

He speaks passionately about employment law, a field he went into fresh from law school in 2006.

“Employment law is, second perhaps only to family law, in requiring empathy. A job is so connected to a person’s life and how they project themselves onto the world. It is very emotional and you need a good deal of empathy to deal with those situations.”

Insight and compassion help to build a relationship as a trusted advisor who really understands a client’s business.

A deep knowledge of a client’s business is crucial in order to be “very responsive, very accessible, and give clear correct advice,” he says.

Mr Traylor’s employment law career began at Minter Ellison, when he joined the employment law team as a new graduate. He found the very human area of law a “nice fusion” of advisory and litigation work – and never looked back.

Like many young lawyers, after five years on the ground in New Zealand, he decided to pack a bag and explore overseas work opportunities (and see the world). 

And, like many young lawyers, he ended up living and working in London.

Initially, he secured an in-house employment law advisor role at a “very large” financial services company. In this position he rose to the unique challenges presented through an in-house role at the same time navigating his own way through “key differences” in the United Kingdom’s employment law.

After eight months, he moved to an employment law advisory position with the Treasury Solicitor’s Department. 

The department describes itself as “a non-ministerial government department providing legal services to the majority of central government departments, often representing government departments and other publicly-funded bodies in England and Wales.”

Effectively, it is the government’s law firm, Mr Traylor says.

Mid-way through 2013, Mr Traylor and his wife decided to make a slow journey back to New Zealand (there were seven months and more than 25 countries along the way).

Now grounded at boutique law firm Dundas Street, Mr Traylor is re-establishing a place within the New Zealand employment law environment.

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