HR Consultant v. Employment Lawyer v. Employee

Jan 10, 2023Team Building

When you started your business, you surely looked down the road and imagined hiring employees and expanding. However, you probably didn’t imagine the complexity and difficulty of people management. Not to mention the amount of paperwork and compliance that went along with it. 

You are now responsible for your employees’ safety, wellbeing, productivity and compliance with a variety of provincial and federal regulations. That is a significant responsibility, but fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone!

So, who should be on your team? Do you need to talk to an employment lawyer or an HR consultant, like us? Or is it time to hire someone solely dedicated to your company’s human resources and people management needs?

That is the question that this article will answer. However, if you aren’t sure, we invite you to book a call with us. We can help you find a solution that matches your needs.

It is so important to note that in many situations, it is not a question of whether you need an employment lawyer, an HR consultant or an HR employee. It is usually the case that these roles complement each other.  Many times, you need more than one of those roles to provide a comprehensive solution.

Employment Lawyer

Simply put, an employment lawyer will ensure you are compliant with applicable employment laws, assess your risk and give advice on how to minimize that risk.

You’ll want to speak to an employment lawyer about a specific situation or scenario where you need to ensure you are compliant or are facing a potential lawsuit.

For example, you may want to know if you are able to fire an employee without running the risk of a wrongful dismissal case. You may also need help drafting or reviewing contracts, such as employment agreements, independent contractor agreements, or non-competition and non-solicitation agreements. These are some of the most important documents for a business to mitigate risk and deserve the eyes of a professional who can ensure you are set up for success based on the current court proceedings. 

That having been said, there are limitations to what most employment lawyers will do for you. They likely will not implement those actions.

For example, let’s suppose that you need to let a person go. An employment lawyer will review your contract, and assess your risk and the specifics of the scenario. They will then provide a range of how many weeks severance and termination to pay, and prepare a letter to present to your employee. They are also able to handle the correspondence with the former employee/that employee’s retained council for a fee. 

However, there are many areas that fall outside the purview of an employment lawyer. An employment lawyer will rarely act as a coach for the termination conversation or be present as a witness to help you through that conversation. They will not provide you guidance on how to handle your remaining team and manage their questions or concerns. 

You may also need someone that is going to look at your business outside the view of legalities and compliance. For that, you’ll need someone who is interested in the human experience; someone like an HR consultant or a dedicated HR employee.

HR Support

Whether you have an HR consultant or a dedicated employee, that person is going to look at your business holistically. For example, an employment lawyer will review your policies to ensure that you are compliant.

Your human resources function is concerned with compliance but is also going to review your policies to ensure that they communicate well, that they are aligned with your corporate values and will resonate with the team that you’re aiming to grow. Their focus is also going to be to help manage the ongoing internal expectations and relationships. 


Your human resources support is going to action the decisions made as they relate to your employees.  They will be the ones to carry out recruitment, training, terminations, performance improvement plans, and onboarding processes.

Your human resources support is also going to manage your company’s employee files, benefits, vacation requests; overall, the day-to-day administrative management of your employees.

And finally, your human resources support is going to work with you on long-term strategies like succession planning and organizational design.

HR Consultant vs. HR Employee

So now the question arises: do you need an HR consultant or a dedicated human resources employee?

Short answer: It depends; and sometimes both.

Generally speaking, if you have more than 50 employees, you should have someone dedicated to your people management needs. This is usually an intermediate role and the focus is often on administration and recruitment. 

The question becomes what are you getting for that cost and is it what you actually need. A  junior or intermediate HR employee is going to be able to administer your programs and policies.  This is often a huge relief in time for some of the leadership and is immensely helpful for staff as well. 

But often companies at this stage, also need to think about strategy and long-term success. That is where a consultant can be handy in addition to a stand-alone HR administration role. 

For many companies, especially those less than 50 without an in-house HR role, an HR consultant is the best use of their budget.  The consultant can provide high-level strategic advice and get you started on a strong foundation. She can help you define your company’s values and create the processes and policies that will support a positive employee experience.

When you work with an HR consultant, you have access to her skill sets, knowledge and expertise, without the overhead of a full-time salary. And when the time is right, she can help you find and onboard the perfect human resources employee to support your company’s growth.

A Fresh Set of Eyes

Another benefit to retaining an HR consultant is objectivity. You may be in a situation where your company could benefit from someone who can provide a fresh set of eyes.

An HR consultant is not emotionally attached to your company in the way that an employee would be. This allows her to see things that you may be too close to notice. Staff are more likely to share openly with someone from outside of an organization and give you valuable feedback you would otherwise miss. 

Having someone neutral to facilitate these key conversations can be the solution to serious issues, like personnel problems or disagreements between managers.

Finding the Right Solution

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to whether you need an employment lawyer, HR consultant, or full-time human resources employee. The best way to figure out what’s right for your business is to assess your needs.

At Support Panda, we love helping businesses gain clarity on how to best serve their employees. Our experience within the industry means that not only can we identify your next best step, but we can also either implement it or direct you to the best professional for the job. We do half- and full-day strategy sessions specifically for this purpose.

To learn more, book a call today. We would be more than happy to chat!

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