Five Minutes With: David Walton, Head of Employment

The fact that I never really know what issues are going to be thrown in my direction during the course of a working day is one of the main reasons why I could never be bored or complacent in my job.

David Walton | Head of Employment

David joins Primas Law as Head of Employment, bringing with him over 20 years experience as a specialist employment solicitor.

Heading up our employment department, David’s day-to-day practice centres on resolving complex internal employment disputes that employers cannot otherwise manage themselves.

David sat down with us to tell us some more about himself and his work with Primas Law…

Tell us a bit about your role at Primas?

“I was tasked with leading the employment team as we grow our employment law offering here at Primas.  The practice has strength in depth across all other commercial disciplines, and the ambition behind my appointment was to bring employment up to the same level.

“My role is therefore dedicated to building the capability of the team, while making the most of the significant body of clients and connections that Primas already has.”

What made you choose a career in employment law?

“The truth is, employment law chose me, rather than me choosing it.  As has always been the case, access to the legal profession is really competitive and I, similar to many of my peers, was just lucky to get a training contract when I did, straight out of Law School.  I trained at a practice in Bolton and my first seat was split between employment and commercial litigation.  With the qualified solicitor leaving right after my training contract began and the replacement lawyer focusing on litigation work, I ended up working on employment work throughout my training contract, rather than rotating around departments.

“Having done employment law throughout my training, I therefore had a unique level of experience in the field to take with me when I qualified as a solicitor.  Specialising in employment law was therefore the obvious and inevitable thing to do.”

What’s the best part of your job?

“Whether I act for an employer or an employee, I am essentially instructed to help clients deal with problems that they cannot resolve themselves.  It therefore gives me a massive amount of satisfaction achieving solutions to those problems and ultimately changing people’s lives, given the personal impact that employment disputes can have on both sides of the employer/employee fence.”

Has the recent COVID crisis impacted how you work?

“Like many people, the pandemic saw me spend my entire working time working from home for significant periods.  The experience confirmed for me that I could be “on the moon” doing my job, so long as I have mobile reception and Wifi.

“However, now that working life has pretty much returned to normal, working through the pandemic has equally made me appreciate the importance of having a clear distinction between work and home life, with the line often blurred whilst solely working from home.  I also now value more than ever the sociability of working in an office environment and the vital part that human interaction plays in the development of junior fee earners in particular.”

What’s your best advice for someone looking to start a career in employment law?

“I appreciate that I may be a bit biased, but I would say that employment law is probably one of the most “academic” disciplines across the range of the profession, and I consider that it is vital to succeeding as an employment lawyer that you have a proper grasp of the legal principles that underpin the advice that you are expected to dispense.

“You certainly can’t “blag it” as an employment specialist.  My advice to someone looking to start in the field is therefore to ensure that they have strong foundations of knowledge around the core areas of the subject and get into the good habit of topping up that knowledge on a regular basis.”

Why Primas? 

“The opportunity to join Primas came at a perfect time for me personally and professionally, as I was ready for a change.

“As I came to learn more about the practice, I was given an overwhelming view of a dynamic, forward-thinking and people-focused practice which was incredibly attractive to me. The picture painted by Adam, Simon and Gary appeared almost too good to be true, but everything that I heard and saw about the practice was consistent with that impression.

“As it happens, the impression I was given was entirely accurate and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join the practice!”

What’s the most interesting case you’ve worked on?

“In the field of employment law, classic human nature means barely a day goes by without a surprising or unusual case.

“Some recent examples include; the management of romantic relationships within the workplace (and the fall-out when they go wrong), an employee who claimed to be unfit for work, but who used his sickness absence to give him the opportunity to tour with his rock band (in a very public way, splashed across social media), and an instance of an employer discovering “inappropriate material” downloaded on to a company laptop (which ultimately proved to be the work of an employee’s teenage son).

“The fact that I never really know what issues are going to be thrown in my direction during the course of a working day is one of the main reasons why I could never be bored or complacent in my job.”

If you could spend a day with anyone, who would it be?

“This is a bit sombre I know, but the honest answer to the question would have to be my dad, who unfortunately passed away last year.  As I think so many people find when they lose a close relative, I only realised after my dad had gone that there was so much that I did not know about him and his past, and there are so many questions that I would like to ask.  A day with him would give me that opportunity.”

What’s your nickname?

“Wally – obviously only based on my surname.”

What was your dream job as a child?

Professional footballer (obviously)

How would your colleagues describe you?

“I dare not think.  As a relative newcomer to Primas, I would like to think that I am still in the initial “honeymoon” phase in which I have not yet had chance to annoy anyone to make them say anything other than ‘nice things’.”


If you’re in need of an employment lawyer, or simply some advice, contact David on: david.walton@primaslaw.co.uk

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