Bruce Macmillan, Founder Director of The Centre for Legal Leadership, answers questions on the personal development of in-house lawyers.
I am a five-year qualified lawyer who has worked in private practice my entire career and I’m now contemplating moving in-house. Do you have any advice before I commit myself to an in-house role?
Before committing yourself to an in-house legal role, you should carefully consider whether it is right for you as there are some material differences from private practice. Article, Skills and behaviours required for an in-house role looks at the pros and cons of working in-house and highlights some differences with private practice. You would be well advised to seek a couple of lengthy secondments in suitable in-house departments so that you can “try before you buy”.
The primary role of an in-house lawyer is to understand what the business is doing and to use this knowledge, combined with legal knowledge, to help to control legal risk in the business at the levels that the organisation wants to achieve. This requires active decision making, numeracy, strong people skills and an appetite to help others to make informed and often nuanced decisions, rather than simply spelling out the letter of the law. Article, What to expect working in-house: the basics looks at how resources, priorities, processes and internal communications differ for general counsel and lawyers in private practice.