Hiring an in-house lawyer and the benefits it can deliver.
Taking on an in-house lawyer is a big step for any company – and it can be difficult for the board to initially see how a lawyer adds value or saves money for their business. But there are significant benefits, both hidden and obvious.
Managing external legal benefits
One of the most immediate is managing current and future legal costs. An experienced in-house lawyer will quickly determine the most cost-effective external lawyers and handle work that was previously given to outside counsel – although it won’t necessarily reduce your legal costs initially as managing your company’s legal affairs properly may need extra investment.
For example: your new lawyer takes a closer look at your legal affairs, and realises that you need to register trademarks and intellectual property rights and create proper employment policies – all of which means modest short term spending to avoid potential costs later.
Your in-house lawyer may also create and manage a panel of legal advisers to improve the quality and efficiency of external legal suppliers and bring significant savings.
Legal risk management programmes and activities
With corporate governance on the increase (refer to The Bribery Act), there is more need for risk management and compliance programmes in any business. Your in-house lawyer would play a crucial part in creating and implementing these, also taking responsibility for internal training and monitoring.
With a commercially-astute lawyer involved from the start of any business initiative, it can be quicker and more cost-effective to implement. That is because an in-house lawyer has a better understanding of your business, its products and strategy, and can be more flexible and quicker to respond than external counsel.
General commercial value
An in-house lawyer will also have a commercial input day-to-day. They’ll take immediate responsibility for corporate transactional work, drafting and negotiating commercial contracts and re-evaluating procurement agreements. Being closer to your business means they can make it happen more quickly and with an immediate commercial impact too, with external advisers only brought in on specialist matters. And during a corporate transaction an in-house lawyer will manage external corporate lawyers, effectively leaving the directors free to concentrate on the business aspects.
Commercial responsibilities can also include monitoring company pension and insurance schemes, company secretarial duties and handling property and general contract litigation matters, as well as advising on employment issues.
What sorts of lawyers are available?
Many excellent lawyers have made the move in-house from private practice. Equally there are those who already work in industry (possibly with relevant experience), who would be excited at establishing a legal department. All you need to decide is what type of lawyer you need, and at what level.