We catch up with experienced in-house lawyer James Hulsken
James, we last spoke to you back in 2012; how have the last few years been?
In short, very busy! In 2012 I’d just embarked on my in-house career and didn’t really know what to expect from working in-house. Six years later I couldn’t now imagine going back into private practice.
You joined Trak Global late last year; what does the company do and what’s its background?
Trak Global is the UK’s largest provider of vehicle telematics solutions. It began life in 2009 with the simple aim of producing the best telematics unit at an affordable price. Two years later Trak was joined by its sister company, Carrot Risk Technologies, an insurance company specialising in utilising telematics to provide insurance to sectors of the market who were historically seen as too risky to insure, such as young or inexperienced drivers.
What core sectors does the business operate in?
Through our proprietary telematics boxes and mobile applications, we provide services to some of the UK and the world’s largest insurers, vehicle manufacturers and fleet companies, offering tracking, impact resolution and fleet management services. We also provide insurance ourselves through our Carrot Insurance brand. As mobility and insurance evolves, the group is also deploying tech and analysing big data across an increasingly wider variety of sectors, including car and ride sharing and on-demand usage-based insurance.
Where in the world are you most active?
Our main market at the moment is still the UK, but we also provide services on our own account and in conjunction with local partners in Europe, the Middle East and North America.
How is the legal team currently structured?
I’m the first in-house solicitor the group has had, so the legal function is currently just me. Prior to my joining, the group had always outsourced its legal requirements to a panel of trusted firms. With the growth anticipated over the next couple of years, and the complexity of the services we offer, the decision was taken mid-way through 2017 to bring a specialist legal function on board to complement the existing business functions.
What kind of work are you handling?
The main area of my work is commercial contract work, and we currently have a large focus on data protection with the GDPR just around the corner. But as you’d expect from an in-house role, no two days are ever the same, and I handle employment, property and corporate work for the group as well as its intellectual property matters.
Any pieces of advice for lawyers who may be thinking of moving to a smaller business?
I couldn’t recommend it enough. The beauty of working in-house is that you get to know your client’s inner workings, something which doesn’t always happen in private practice. In addition, having worked in sole counsel roles and as part of a large team in a PLC, I’d have to say that I prefer being able to work in a more autonomous fashion, something which unfortunately isn’t always possible in big businesses. In short, there’s no hiding in a smaller business!