The Meteoric Rise of In-House Lawyers

5 Mins

According to a 2019 Law Society report, in-house lawyers now make up a quarter of the profession in the UK. A more recent survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel found that 32% of in-house general counsel plan to recruit more lawyers to their in-house legal department. It’s a significant jump compared to twenty years ago, and there are plenty of lawyers keen to take up these in-house legal roles.

Will in-house legal recruitment continue to grow?

The in-house legal trend shows no sign of stopping or slowing down. There are good reasons to think this will continue. Here are a few of them:

  • In-house roles are not just in the capital, there’s been a surge of regional opportunities in cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.
  • Growth isn’t just happening in the UK—the drive for bringing more lawyers in-house is global and particularly strong in Asia and Australia.
  • Companies have changed since the pandemic, with many increasing the size of their legal teams and giving in-house lawyers greater influence—reflecting a more fluid and changing global landscape.
  • Businesses are seeing the advancement of technology, bringing with it new legal responsibilities, so an in-house lawyer can help tech-driven companies navigate the legal landscape quickly and with ease.
  • Training lawyers in-house and offering career progression is increasing.

Are in-house legal roles changing too?

Yes. While most in-house legal jobs are with large private sector corporations, smaller companies and technology start-ups are now looking to recruit in-house legal counsel. But with the high wage cost, smaller businesses are offering flexible, part-time and remote working opportunities in order to save money and still have access to experienced in-house lawyers. This also means an increasing number of in-house legal graduate jobs and opportunities for less experienced lawyers looking to grow with the company.

What other in-house legal trends should I be aware of?

There’s likely to be a greater demand for flexible lawyers offering legal services in an agile way. Companies are looking into lawyers with a relevant specialty, knowing their in-house lawyer can help them source the right external legal support when they need it. Cybersecurity and data privacy are likely to remain key legal priorities for companies too. Businesses are also increasingly regulated, requiring lawyers in-house with expertise in tax law, contracts, commercial litigation and employment law.

Overall, there’s an increasing awareness that bringing legal counsel in house makes financial sense, capping costs and focusing their legal expenditure on in-house lawyers who can deliver more commercial, practical advice compared to risk-averse law firms.

We’re a leading in-house legal counsel recruitment firm skilled at matching talented lawyers with top companies looking for the right fit. If you’re a lawyer, we help you navigate the shift from private practice to going in-house, bring you exciting opportunities, and support your career progression. For companies, we can find and retain the lawyers you need and build your in-house legal team. Get in touch today and find out how we can help.

Written by Jason Connolly