In-house lawyers news archive

SYLA and ILG Event: So you want to be an.....In-house Lawyer?

On 2nd June 2015, the SYLA and the ILG joined forces to present "So You Want to Be an...... In-house Lawyer?" at the Edinburgh offices of Standard Life.  Mark Conroy, a trainee solicitor at Standard Life tells us more.  

So you want to be an …In-House Lawyer?

By Mark Conroy, Trainee Solicitor at Standard Life

The number of Scottish lawyers working in-house is almost 30%, the role of in-house legal support in our businesses is continuing to evolve and the Scottish legal landscape is continuing to grow. As a result, the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association and the In-House Lawyers’ Group of the Society held a joint evening event on 2 June in the Edinburgh offices of Standard Life to discuss what it means to be an In-House Lawyer. 

There were over 30 attendees at this event, which was chaired by Graeme McWilliams, SYLA Event 2 June 2015Legal Adviser, Standard Life and ILG Committee Member. Graeme welcomed a panel of three in-house lawyers:  Ewan Cameron, Solicitor, Standard Life, John Paterson, Divisional Solicitor, Scottish Government and Stephen Swan, Legal Director, Edinburgh Airport.

The speakers guided the audience through their careers to date, giving insights into their daily working lives and explaining what it is about the in-house legal role that makes it different to what can be expected in private practice.

The key themes, touched upon by each of the speakers, seemed to sum up this difference perfectly.  Firstly, the commerciality of the role.  An in-house lawyer is not limited to legal advice. The focus is not on the law, but on the practical application of the law and what it means for their organisation. Of course, legal advice is a large part of an in-house lawyer’s role, but they operate in a much broader commercial context where their advice can, and in some cases is expected to, include advice on cost, strategy, risk and ultimately what the best decision is.

Secondly, when working in-house, you are part of a team. There is little success you can achieve solely by yourself, mainly because you need support, help and sometimes guidance from others. It can be a hugely rewarding experience to succeed by working together – something in-house lawyers do every single day.

Finally, one of the most appealing aspects of working as an in-house lawyer, is being part of a bigger picture and often a corporate project. Your involvement doesn’t end once you give your legal advice – you are involved from the beginning to the end and you are expected to play a role in all areas.

A short Q&A followed with Ewan, John and Stephen expanding further on their experiences and thoughts on the future of the in-house lawyer. In particular, there seemed to be a clear understanding that the role of the private practice lawyer and the role of the in-house lawyer are different roles and not two sides of the same coin.

The SYLA and ILG were grateful to Standard Life for hosting the event and everyone who attended and asked questions at what was a very insightful, interesting and successful evening.