Why should a company hire an in-house lawyer?
Taking on an in-house lawyer is a big step for any company and in the early stages, it’s sometimes difficult for the board to see how a lawyer adds value or saves money for their business. There are significant benefits, both hidden and obvious.
One of the most immediate benefits is the management of current and future legal costs. An experienced in-house lawyer quickly determines the most cost-effective external lawyers and handles 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 might need extra investment. For example, your new in-house lawyer takes a closer look at your legal affairs and realises you need to register trademarks and intellectual property rights and create proper employment policies, which means modest short term spending and avoids potential costs later on down the line.
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, there’s more need for risk management and compliance programmes within any business. Your in-house lawyer plays a crucial part in creating and implementing these, and also takes 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’s 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 has a commercial input on a day-to-day basis. 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 immediate commercial impact. (External advisers are only brought in on specialist matters.)
During a corporate transaction an in-house lawyer will manage external corporate lawyers, leaving company 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 lawyers are available?
Many excellent lawyers have made the move from private practice to in-house. Equally, there are those who already work in industry (possibly with relevant experience), who’d be excited to establish a legal department. All you need to decide is what type of lawyer you need, and at what level.
If you’re thinking of hiring an in-house lawyer, get in contact with our In-house Managing Director, Mark Levine.