The future... the rise of in-house solicitors
It is a fact that in-house solicitors are on the rise. Last year, in-house solicitors accounted for 25% of the legal profession in England and Wales and it is predicted this will rise to 35% by 2020. In-house lawyers are not only growing in volume but in influence too.
Why such a rapid rise?
Businesses are recognising how useful and cost-effective it can be to have a lawyer to hand. In-house lawyers often take on an advisory role for executive boards when it comes to running the business, making both commercial and strategic decisions; an extension to pure legal advice. Lawyers are often trained to have the courage (at times having to deliver difficult messages) and clear communication skills so are well placed to sit and advise on a management team.
In-house lawyers can focus on reducing the external legal spend and often having trained in a traditional law firm know how to control legal spend and manage relationships with external lawyers. They also have an ability to quickly grasp the legal issues to identify what if anything requires specialist external advice and what can be contained in-house.
Much of this depends on the individual lawyer, of course, the experience is important but personality is the key aspect of working successfully in-house. Building relationships at all levels of an organisation, whether at Board level or, the workers on the ground enables the lawyer to identify issues more readily, often before they are even approached. It is, of course, vital that a lawyer working in-house can still hold on to their moral and legal compass and are not easily persuaded to bend the rules or alter the advice to the answer the client wants putting the business at risk.
Today’s in-house lawyers often have more passion as they are immersed in their client’s environment and willing them to do well. You also get to see the impact of your advice and actions which can, for the most part, be rewarding. This encourages lawyers to be more solution-driven as they do not want to be seen as the hurdle in the business which continually says “no, sorry you can’t do that”.
A key feature of being in-house is the understanding of industry issues, as well as the history and future plans of the business on which the lawyer can build their legal advice. Lawyers can positively impact all areas of a business and are ideally positioned for building bridges between departments internally. They might be asked to advise on one area of a business but a lateral-thinking lawyer can foresee how this might impact another department and deal with this at the same time.
Chat with us, if you would like a senior, experienced in-house lawyer around your business.