The Law Society of Scotland has published new guidelines to help in-house solicitors who face pressure to give advice to someone other than their direct employer.

The Who is your client? guide has been developed following feedback from the profession. It builds on the Society’s existing Guide for in-house lawyers.

A survey of in-house lawyers found that they often come under pressure to give advice to someone who is not their direct employer, for instance, other colleagues, associated bodies, directors and even members of the public.

Graeme McWilliams, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s In-house Lawyers Committee, explained that the pressures exist in both the private and public sectors but are most strongly felt in local government teams, and are increasing as organisations develop new ways of working.

He added: “As an in-house lawyer, your employer is your client. But who is your employer and what about associated bodies, work colleagues and others?

“This guide helps in-house lawyers to answer those questions, outlining when they can give advice and what to consider in those circumstances.”

The guidelines, which were prepared with a focus group of in-house solicitors from the public, private and third sectors, are not prescriptive, providing a series of case studies and practical tips on how to deal with potentially tricky employer-client relationships.

Graeme McWilliams added: “We are keen to ensure that the parameters of in-house practice are clear – and members are equipped with the tools they need to deal with the potential pressures they face in this growing area of the legal profession.

“We also hope that these supplementary guidelines will bring greater consistency to in-house practice.”

The new guide is available to read on the Law Society of Scotland website: Who is your client?