An in-house lawyer is tasked with sorting out the legal tasks of the organisation he works for. This work will depend on the nature of the business and the size of the company.
In-house lawyers can be found everywhere. From software companies to football clubs to food and drink companies to energy companies, every organisation has legal needs that have to be addressed. To list just a few of the things an in-house lawyer has to deal with:
- handling employee contracts and employment law
- handling subcontractors and other commercial contracts
- counsel to Human Resources
- negotiating trade agreements
- working with marketing departments
- intellectual property, patents and trademark protection
- staff training
- insolvency and litigation projects
- competition law
And many more.
Why practice in-house to private practice?
Many in-house lawyers find it more comfortable to work for “one client” and one industry in contrast to the nature of the work in private practice. Oftentimes it’s the more stable pay and “normal” hours of in-house practice that convinces lawyers to switch, even if it means giving up the dream of making it big as an associate in a top law firm.
The value of in-house lawyers has grown tremendously in recent years, many company successes being attributed to the “local” legal departments. Because of this, if you have good legal skills and know how to spot commercial opportunities, a swift rise up the corporate ladder is guaranteed. It’s common for in-house lawyers to advance to more senior boardroom jobs, to become heads of legal departments or take a more secretarial position within the company.
Most attorneys train in private practice before they choose in-house work. In-house training contracts are also available but there are few companies that offer it. There is however a trend for companies to take in trainees and if you’d like to get acquainted with the industry first, contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Commerce & Industry Group for a list of companies that offer this type of training.
Applying for an in-house lawyer job
Jobs for in-house lawyers are advertised in the legal press and national newspapers. You can also find more information on legal websites that specialize in legal recruiting.