Life

Day in the Life of an employment law solicitor turned TikTok star

Day in the Life of an employment law solicitor turned TikTok star

James Cox

Richard Grogan is a Dublin-based employment solicitor, and you may well be familiar with his videos and catchphrase, 'that's the law and that's a fact', from your Instagram or TikTok feed.

Since March 2021, Mr Grogan has been filming advice videos on various issues around employment law, and he has become a viral hit.

People value the simplicity in Mr Grogan's advice to common workplace issues, and this is something he tries to incorporate in his day-to-day interactions with clients.

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So what doe a day in the life of an employment law solicitor look like?

"There's no such thing as a normal day for an employment law solicitor," Mr Grogan told BreakingNews.ie.

He divides his days into court hearings, and time considering requests and strategies for clients.

"The hearing days start any time between 9am and 2pm in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), and in the Labour Court between 10am and 2pm.

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"The more straightforward cases tend to be afternoon ones, and the more complex cases tend to be in the morning."

Mr Grogan always makes sure a client is in the WRC or Labour Court half an hour before a hearing.

"This is important because it is highly unusual that someone ever has more than one claim in the WRC or Labour Court, so this is an unusual environment that they're going into," he explained.

"If you have a hearing that will go through evidence and legal argument, they will all have been rehearsed well in advance and submissions will have been put in.

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"If you're in a hearing day you can also use the half hour with the other side if they want to talk settlement."

Non-hearing days start with going through requests for consultations, and deciding which ones warrant further consideration.

All employment law cases are "very personal matters," he explained.

"Normally in the afternoon we do our consultations. We've read the file beforehand, you now have a consultation where you advise the client and get a letter of advice to them.

"When you're dealing with employment law matters, it is very personal issues. Issues of harassment or bullying, they are very personal to an individual, equally if someone has been dismissed it is very personal to them.

"You then have the issue, in dealing with the clients in that situation you have to be conscious of the fact you have to give them cold hard advice.

"That has to be carefully dealt with, you might have someone in who thinks their case is worth €100,000, and you think it's worth €20,000.

"You have to be able to explain to them why their value is different to your value. For example a lot of people say 'I was unfairly dismissed, I can get two years' salary'.

"We have to say 'it's up to two years, and by the way you have to be seen to minimise your loss'. That then becomes a slightly contentious issue sometimes.

"With cases like unfair dismissal you're going on instinct and experience.

"Somebody comes in who has been subjected to sexual harassment, you're trying to determine whether it will be classed as minor, serious or very serious.

"The difficulty for any solicitor is the fact it might come in at the lower end, we have to treat it as a case where it's the most serious to the person, nobody will think their sexual harassment case is at the lower end.

"It's a very difficult and hard job to try to explain to somebody where you're putting the value at."

He added: "The other side is dealing with employers which is the converse of dealing with employees, even in the most serious of cases the employer is looking at this as being at the lower end so that is also one you have to be able to explain."

Mr Grogan said his practice prepares every case as if it's going to hearing from the beginning.

"My own view is we will prepare every case on the basis it will go for hearing, but it's always better that they are resolved by way of settlement or mediation."

So how did he become an Instagram and TikTok star?

"In and around March 2021 I geared up my Instagram account. At that stage I had about 400 followers, I decided I would change my Instagram, and we started doing reels."

Mr Grogan was then introduced to the idea of TikTok, although he initially believed he was too old for it.

"I was asked to do a course in the Law Society on the use of social media in the legal profession and somebody put their hand up and told me I should use TikTok.

"That was November 30th, 2021, I said 'well, I'm not 16, and I can't sing or dance'.

"I went and had a look at it that evening and opened up my TikTok and posted my first video on December 1st, 2021."

In less than a year, the solicitor has accumulated 250,000 followers.

"As of today I'm at over 250,000 followers. What I've done on Instagram and TikTok is short videos, 15-30 seconds, or 60 seconds... they're short and snappy. It's not what I want to talk about it, it comes from the DMs."

"You have to have the jargon now," he said with a smile. "DMs on Instagram and messages on TikTok."

"We see them coming and decide, this might be worth covering."

Mr Grogan said he tries to cover as many topics as possible, but tries to identify trends as he can receive up to 150 requests in a day.

"TikTok and Instagram are very interesting, and I really enjoy them," he said. "We don't use a marketing agency, they're absolutely in house."

Despite his huge success, Mr Grogan's investment in social media has been minimal.

"I don't have a video camera, all I have is my iPhone propped up on a Law Society directory and on top of the directory I put my keypad.

"I prop my iPhone up against my desk computer, that's why it's the same background all the time. That's our investment, zero."

It may also surprise fans that his well-known catchphrase was borne out of necessity rather than deep thought, as he needed to fill in a few seconds at the end of his videos.

'That's the law and that's a fact'

"I'm asked about the phrase, 'that's the law and that's a fact', that came about on the Instagram because when I started you could do 30 or 60 seconds and I couldn't do 30 seconds.

"With 60 seconds I had a gap at the end, so I said that's the law and that's a fact. It wasn't some marketing guru who came up with it, it was just that I had to fill in five seconds and that's where the catchphrase came from."

While the level of his success on social media came as a surprise to him, Mr Grogan feels it is straight talking and simple advice, which he strives for when talking to clients as well, that is behind the popularity of his videos.

"A lot of professionals think they have to use big words and jargon, what we aim for is small words and no jargon.

"How I am on TikTok and Instagram is no different to how I would be talking to a client here in the office. We try to do it in very simple and straightforward language.

"Because of the nature of our work it is very important that things are explained in a clear and precise way, so there is no misunderstanding."

He added: "The Instagram I was surprised with. TikTok I thought would take me a while to get any decent numbers, within a week of starting it off one of the videos had four million views."

His advice to anybody trying to gain success on social media is simple, "you have to be you".

While he finds his newfound popularity amusing, Mr Grogan said it is always a pleasure when people approach him in public to compliment his videos.

"When I’m out and about I get a lot of ‘that’s the law and that’s a fact’ from people. I can be sitting down having a coffee and somebody will come up and ask for a picture with me, which is kind of amusing for an old fella like me, it’s very gratifying. It’s great when somebody says they see my videos and reels and say they’ve helped them a lot, that’s great because what you’re doing is making law accessible, and I hope I’m demystifying the whole area of employment law.

"It’s even better when they offer you a free coffee!"

He said his main goal is making the legal profession more accessible.

"We have 800 plus pieces of legislation to deal with, so there’s a lot to clarify for people, but it’s nice to think that people like what they see and come up and compliment you.

"Being recognised is really great. I hope what I’m doing is promoting the legal profession, and showing people it is not scary to go and get legal advice."

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