In-House Counsel Job Description

| Career Insights

In-House Counsel Job Description

In response to the unpredictable and long hours demanded at private practice law firms, along with a desire to contribute more substantially and meaningfully to the decision-making process of a business, many lawyers are deciding to move in-house. As In-House Counsel, lawyers can benefit from following projects in their entirety and working closely with the business to realise their commercial aims, engaging in varied work, and gaining more responsibility. If this appeals to you, continue reading to learn more about the exciting role! 

What is an In-House Counsel and how does work differ from that of a private practice law firm?

In-House Counsels differ from private practice lawyers in performing legal work exclusively for their employer, focusing on their ongoing needs rather than advising multiple clients at a law firm. No longer jumping from deal to deal, In-House Counsel work in teams to identify opportunities and mitigate risk for one client, allowing them to learn extensively about the business to offer exceptionally tailored and informed advice. Moreover, working for the same client continuously affords In-Housel Counsel greater visibility of deadlines and timelines than in private practice, often allowing them to better manage their time. Further differences are delineated below: 

In-House Counsel

Private Practice Law Firm

Perception:

Cost centres (generate expenses for the company).

Fee-earners (generate revenue which keeps the law firm in business).

Clients:

Their employer. However, they also work with different departments (e.g., HR, engineers, business line managers) to ascertain the best legal solution for the company.

Various companies in different industries. Lawyers work intermittently on matters, rather than for one continuous client. They must be prepared to adapt to their clients’ diverse goals, preferred approaches, and budgetary considerations.  

Nature of Work:

Deal with most matters internally and only outsource if expert advice is required. Proactive and strategic work to assess how legal decisions will impact the business. 

More reactive and prescriptive work. 

Where does In-House Counsel work?

In-House Counsel works directly for a business or organisation, however, their degree of specialisation and range of work acted on will necessarily differ depending on the company’s size and complexity. Accordingly, In-House Counsel may be tasked solely with specific practice area work (e.g., will only act and advise on employment law-related matters) as part of a team of 25 lawyers for an international organisation or could see themselves offering generalist advice as to the sole legal advisor of a small start-up. 

How do I become an In-House Counsel lawyer?

Typically, you will need to qualify as a Solicitor first and specialise in an area of commercial or corporate law (e.g., intellectual property) before moving to an In-House Counsel position. This will most likely require you to spend a couple of years in private practice PQE to demonstrate that you have the requisite legal knowledge. Notwithstanding, a few in-house training contracts are available for those seeking to work at companies like Vodafone or EDF Energy. If this route appeals to you, it is recommended that you get in touch with the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Commerce & Industry Group to determine where in-house training contracts are being offered. Alternatively, you could contact interested companies directly to receive additional information. 

What tasks will I be performing as an In-House Counsel?

Your responsibilities as an In-House Counsel will likely encompass:

  • Advising your employer and other members of staff on diverse legal issues concerning the business sector operated in and their products or services
  • Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating commercial contracts
  • Keeping abreast of changes to legislation, especially where it directly impacts your chosen business or industry
  • Complying with all laws and regulations germane to the day-to-day operation of the business  
  • Communicating with, instructing, and managing external counsel 
  • Mitigating legal risks by setting company policies and procedures
  • Organising and delivering legal training to the business 

What skills do I need to excel as an In-House Counsel?

  • Written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to explain complex legal issues in simple terms
  • Ability to work in teams and collaborate
  • Legal knowledge, especially of the risks, opportunities, and changes in your chosen business and industry
  • Commercial awareness and business skills (financial acumen, technological competence, project and performance management), with a particular emphasis on your chosen business and industry
  • Emotional intelligence, such as the ability to build and maintain enduring professional relationships across the business
  • Creativity in offering innovative legal and business solutions
  • Ability to work well under pressure 
  • Thoughtfully inquisitive
  • Proficient in negotiating and drafting 

How will I be remunerated? 

According to our updated Salary Checker for the month of August 2021, In-House Counsel can expect to be paid an average salary of £78, 651 per annum and may even be eligible for additional discretionary bonuses. Nonetheless, earnings will differ depending on location, experience level, practice area, and employer. For instance, those with substantial experience are being increasingly offered boardroom positions at eminent international corporations. 

Where can I look to find In-House Counsel vacancies?

Head on over to the Opportunities tab on our website to review current In-Housel Counsel openings in the UK or watch In-House Counsel lawyer Naveen Klershare her experiences of the job. Alternatively, if you are an In-House legal department seeking to promote a vacancy in your office, simply Create an Alert on our platform. 

banner

Articles

Stay Tuned

Receive regular news, updates, upcoming events and more...