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1 in 4 solicitors now work in-house. With increasing regulations and stiff sanctions for companies who fall foul of the law - the growth in this area isn’t just in the commerce and industry sector. Many start-ups and technology firms are recruiting in-house legal counsel for the first time. We look at what you need to think about before you take the plunge.

It’s about more than saving money

External lawyers can cost £500 per hour or more - which means companies can spend huge amounts of money on legal fees. A confident, highly skilled in-house lawyer could save your company vast sums of money. This is particularly true for firms looking to pursue advisor intensive activities in the future.

But beware, an in-house lawyer will thoroughly understand your business, so they could also increase your legal spend. This is because they’re perfectly positioned to spot legal issues within your firm.

Employing the right in-house general counsel will also speed up management decisions and reduce legal risk where sanctions for companies getting it wrong are severe. So it shouldn’t just be a cost-cutting exercise.

Know the specialisms you need from a lawyer

Taking on an in-house lawyer is a big financial investment and you want someone who is best suited for the role you have. As regulations and legislation have become more complex, companies' needs have become more varied. So it’s vital you know the specialism you require, or if in fact you need someone with multiple areas of expertise. Have a clear understanding of what the role will be and the type of lawyer you need.

Check key attributes, not just qualifications

If you’re recruiting an in-house lawyer from private practice, you’ll need to check they have the drive and enthusiasm to get involved in many areas of your business. 

Another factor is their ability to communicate your business values effectively to the people they come into contact with. If they’re regularly speaking to your stakeholders, you’ll want someone who represents your firm in the right way. 

You may still need external counsel

Recruiting in-house won’t necessarily mean an end to using law firms. You may still need specialist advice your in-house legal counsel can’t provide. But what your own lawyer or legal team should be able to do is act as a liaison between the company and the external law firm. They may even recommend the best lawyers and help you decipher legal terminology so the process can be more efficient.

Have an attractive offer

To attract the right in-house lawyer from another firm or private practice, you’ll need a strong financial offer to compete with their current salary. But that’s not the only consideration. You should also think about flexible working potential and other incentives to make your firm attractive to top talent. In-house legal jobs are an attractive and competitive option for lawyers, so by getting this right you’ll have your pick of outstanding candidates.