Colin Anderson, Law Society of Scotland Council member, discusses the new best practice course for in-house lawyers and asks for your input for future CPD events.

Earlier this month, the Law Society of Scotland CPD & Training team ran a brand new course for solicitors taking up their first in-house role. Recent years have seen a large increase in the number of solicitors moving in-house and the transition from private practice to in-house can be challenging, particularly if an organisation had previously outsourced all their legal work.

For some time I have felt there was a need to do something to help our members with this transition. My discussions with the members of the working party who drew up the “Who is Your Client?” guidelines confirmed this and other in-house lawyers I spoke to told me they would benefit greatly from such a course. The CPD & Training team were very supportive of the initiative, as was the Society’s Board, so off I went to draw up a programme.

Following initial discussions, we decided on a full-day course which would be a mixture of presentation and case studies.  We would start with senior in-house lawyers talking about their move from private practice - outlining the challenges they faced and how one can succeed in that new role. Another session would focus on what the Society’s Professional Practice team could do to help solicitors. This is a resource available to all lawyers and not just those in private practice. I have heard the view expressed that you do not need to worry about practice rules if you are in-house – this is clearly not the case.

To give some insight into the challenges faced by in-house lawyers, I prepared a number of case studies which were ‘road-tested’ by a handful of senior Scots solicitors, who then came on board as facilitators on the day. The case studies focussed on ethical dilemmas, challenging internal dynamics and professional practice issues. Examples included:

  • How do you demonstrate your value as an in-house lawyer?
  • Can you act for organisations other than your employer?
  • When can hospitality be accepted?
  • How do you recognise when you might need external legal help?

30 people signed up for the course and the feedback has been excellent! Many constructive comments were made in the post-event survey and these will be taken on board for the next course which we are aiming to run in spring 2018.

Solicitors also move from in-house roles to private practice and a few of our members have asked about a best practice course for the alternative move. Something maybe to think about in 2018?

As always, we want to hear from you. Suggestions for future course content or about our In-house Best Practice initiative? We are listening.

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