Colleague Spotlight

David Eastwood, Head of Team, Legal Services

David Eastwood

David's background

With a career spanning three decades and numerous different roles and fields, David is undoubtedly one of Ellis Whittam’s most seasoned legal experts. Having first entered our ranks as a Senior Adviser in 2014, he quickly became a highly-valued presence, and was soon elected to lead our Employment Law Team.

Today, he continues to fulfil this role with confidence and authority, carefully managing his team of nine consultants whilst overseeing relationships with dozens of clients. Having worked extensively in food retail and facility management, and now managing clients from the manufacturing, care, transport and professional services industries, David is nothing short of an all-rounder when it comes to employment law.

David's qualifications

LLB Law Degree (Hons)

Postgraduate Diploma in Employment Law

An interview with David

Tell us more about your background?

Like many in my position, the journey began with becoming a fully qualified solicitor. This included the usual steps, such as a Law degree and a legal practices course. Since then, I’ve spent the majority of my career in food retail, working for national supermarket chains initially as in-house employment lawyer and later as Head of Legal. Professionally, my first in-house job covered a mixed bag of employment, trading standards, consumer protection and civil litigation. Over time and as the employment work grew, I recruited a team to deal with the other areas. I also undertook a 12-month role for an international facility management provider before joining Ellis Whittam in 2014. Having started out as a Senior Employment Law Adviser, I went on to become Head of Employment Law and now manage a team of consultants. I’ve been with Ellis Whittam for roughly six years, and in total I now have around 30 years of experience.

What does your role at Ellis Whittam entail?

Despite being Head of Team, much of my role consists of answering emails and calls, so I’m never far removed from the realities of client issues. Other than that, my main responsibilities are looking after my team of consultants and ensuring they are supported, as well as managing client relationships. I would say that I’ve now dealt with around 60 different clients during my time at Ellis Whittam, including organisations in the manufacturing, care, transport and professional services industries. If I’ve developed a style over the years, I would say it’s direct and to-the-point. Employment law can be a minefield, so I truly believe this is the best way to go.

Which aspect of the role do you enjoy the most, and which do you find most challenging?

Even after 30 years in the field and six years at Ellis Whittam, I still take great pleasure in providing solutions and options to enable clients to get the best outcome for the organisation. That really is the essence of employment law, and you have to thrive off that in order to succeed. However, there are of course challenges to overcome, and I would say that striking a fine balance is the one that stands out. More specifically, balancing the need to be respectful of clients with the requirement to often tell them that they are wrong. This can be tricky to achieve.

What do you think has changed in recent years in terms of employee relations and the role of the employer?

This obvious answer is of course COVID-19. This has changed things both positively and negatively. Many employees are, to an extent, resigned to losing their jobs or at the very least having reduced incomes. However, as a result, they are more inclined to contest this due to a severe lack of other opportunities. Though tricky terrain to navigate, this presents a very interesting landscape in the world of employment law. My one piece of advice to employers, now and always, is to make note of when each new employee passes the 23-month mark in their role.

What have you done recently that has made you proud?

I recently assisted an employer in identifying that two employees they wanted to make redundant could in fact be dismissed with no risk or cost if they acted the following day. This was a revelation to the employer, and made life much easier for them at the time. This might not seem like a big, glamorous or even desirable event, but I feel this sums up why this role can be so satisfying at times. When a client takes heed of your advice, follows through with it and eventually reaps the rewards, it’s a great feeling.

How would you describe Ellis Whittam’s support, and what makes it unique?

After more than three decades in the field, I can say with sincerity that Ellis Whittam is a truly unique and high-quality organisation. In particular, we offer a financially stress-free experience for clients, with no hourly fee to worry about. This gives them the freedom to achieve much more with their adviser than they might have done otherwise. Secondly, I’d be the first to attest to the sheer quality of the team. Here, we have a team of outstanding Employment Law consultants, and I feel confident in saying that, between them, they could tackle any case.

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