There are some dilemmas faced by those practising in-house that most dare not speak of. Not so our secret in-house lawyer. In the latest blog, they tackle a tricky question - who is your client?
“Hello,” says the small boy standing in my office.
“Hello,” I say, wondering if HR is now recruiting direct from nursery or whether he’s going to ask me if I’ve seen his mummy as he’s lost.
“Hello,” says the managing director walking in too, “this is my son. He’s just started today.”
Damn, that explains it. It’s not child labour, it’s a dynasty.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I say, now wondering where exactly he’s starting. “Where are you starting?” I ask.
(Not legal! Not legal! Not legal!)
It’s also in another office so I won’t have to deal with him at all.
“I’ve got a favour to ask?” says the managing director. Damn.
“I’m buying him a flat near the office and I want you to buy it for me. It’ll be straightforward.“ It won’t be.
“I know the seller.” Even worse.
“We’ve not agreed the price but it’s a done deal.” It’s not a done deal if you don’t have the price!
“And you can just sort it out for us, can’t you?!” No, of course not, I don’t act for you, I act for the company and this is completely against Law Society rules but…
… this is the managing director, the big boss, the man who pays my wages, picks my bonus and constantly mutters about how lawyers need to get a move on and just “get the deal done!”.
And, really, what harm does it cause? He wants me to be his lawyer. He’s not going to complain to the Society and, if it keeps him happy, what difference will it make? What’s the worst that could happen…?
As an in-house lawyer, your employer is your client. But who is your employer? What about associated bodies? And work colleagues?
In your role, you may be asked to give advice to someone who is not your direct employer. Should you give them that advice and, if you do, what do you and your team need to consider?
Next month the Law Society will launch ‘Who Is Your Client?’ guidelines for in-house lawyers, specifically designed to help you navigate your in-house career ethically and professionally.
We also have an exciting course lined up for you in October. Featuring a selection of high-profile speakers, our in-house best practice course has been specifically designed to support and guide new in-house lawyers and sole legal counsel. Find out more