A marriage made in?

So now you have appointed an employee or you are the appointee. How long and with how much difficulty did it take to decide whether this was a date or a marriage? Let us say that the relationship has developed into an on-going one. Is it a marriage? Is it even valid to liken an employment relationship to a marriage?

According to Harvard University a marriage requires:

  • The parties to have the legal ability to marry each other.
  • That there is mutual consent to do so.
  • Agreement to any legal contract as required by law.

Putting this into employment terms between the employer and the employee:

  • Both parties are free to become employer and employee.
  • There is mutual agreement that the employee will provide services in return for material reward.
  • As a result of this mutuality a contract of employment becomes operative, ideally but not always put in a written contract.

We have had the date, which became an engagement and has now blossomed into a marriage. There can be some debate as to how valid it is to associate employment with marriage but what constitutes a marriage is pretty close to employment.   As any married person will agree, it is only AFTER the marriage has taken place that the real effort starts. Both the new employer and the employee have to go through a learning process, understanding the politics in place and developing relationships in addition to the functional needs of the new role. The employee, like a new spouse, must become alert to the nuanced needs of the employer and colleagues. When it comes to a law firm there are usually behaviours which are highly valued in one firm which are less relevant or applicable to another. For example, some positions need a strong ability to communicate with colleagues and clients and another firm places emphasis on the ability to be flexible or to be at a desk for long hours.

The author Germaine Greer wrote that, “a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person”.

Similarly, success as an employer or an employee requires a continuous feedback loop between both. This ensures that performance is assessed of and by the attorney and the employer. They don’t need to love each other but they do need to exercise mutual acceptance “many times” if there is to be an on-going and successful employee-employer relationship.

Just how long that relationship should last we leave to the next instalment.

Wishing you a happy ‘marriage’ as a happy attorney with a happy employer.

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