For Gravel & Shea Partner Heather Hammond, the clients are the best part of the job. As an employment attorney providing counseling and training, she enjoys getting to know her clients’ businesses on an in-depth basis. “I love going to their offices, their plants or their stores and really understanding how their employees work, what practices are successful, and how they could perhaps do things better or differently,” she says. “I appreciate knowing that I’ve contributed to these companies having a productive and satisfied workforce.”
Heather joined Gravel & Shea in 2001. She’d gone to both college and law school in Vermont and was ready to start her practice in the state she’d grown to love. And a previous stint as a summer associate at Gravel & Shea convinced Heather that it was the right place. The attorneys she had met and worked with were busy with work they valued, and they also found time to enjoy their lives in Vermont.
During her six years as an associate on the litigation team, Heather found herself being drawn to the opportunities to provide employment litigation and counseling. Eventually, she began to develop a thriving practice as an employment attorney.
“When my clients have satisfied, engaged and productive employees,” says Heather, “that’s how I define ‘success’.”
She brings her experience as a trial attorney to every interaction — not just when she is litigating employment cases — but she is keenly aware of the difference between a litigation victory and a counseling victory. “Litigation is incredibly valuable and often necessary to a successful outcome to a dispute, but of course, it’s best for my clients if they never have to see the inside of a courtroom,” says Heather.
While Heather provides advice on a broad range of employment matters, she specializes in helping companies avoid harassment and discrimination in the workplace, comply with state and federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, and train new management staff in best practices.
One of the most important facets of Heather’s service to a bevy of long-term clients is keeping them up to date on new laws and regulations. Employers big and small face numerous legal human resources requirements that can change rapidly as new laws are passed at both the state and federal level. Frequent modifications — from minimum wage increases and sick time requirements to hiring form restrictions and sexual harassment policies — impact the day-to-day operations for many employers and their employees. They may need to make immediate changes to their practices or procedures, and Heather works to ensure they’re in compliance as quickly as possible.
Heather has been repeatedly recognized by legal ranking publications for her employment practice, and while she downplays the importance of these external awards, she acknowledges that her background as a litigator allows her to provide uniquely well-informed advice to her clients. She uses her deep understanding of the litigation process to help her clients avoid pitfalls and approach tricky issues in ways that minimize the potential of a current problem turning into future litigation.