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What should new in-house lawyers do?

Posted by: Oliver Rumsey 30/01/17
With in-house legal teams continuing to grow in size, the number of opportunities for private practice lawyers to make the leap in house is also increasing. There’s little doubt that the nature of the modern legal workplace is shifting, and the increased collaboration encouraged within interdisciplinary teams in law firms will no doubt set private practice professionals looking to make the move into in-house with a stronger foundation of skills than the generation of lawyers before them. However the leap can still be just that, a leap. So what should a lawyer do on their first day in the role?

It’s crucial that new in house lawyers take the time to familiarise themselves with the structure of their new landscape. Ensure you know how many employees are there, and where are they located. Find out how many contractors and consultants provide additional services. Establish what the management structure is like and who different bands of employees report to. Also, ensure that you are familiar with key colleagues in the HR department as well as how it is organised. By doing your research, you'll feel more confident of your role within the business, and what your future career might entail.

It’s also important that you set aside time to thoroughly review all of the organisation’s key documents. It’s worth ensuring that all of the important employment documents are in order; for example, is the offer letter in good shape and does it use appropriate language? Does the organisation have an arbitration clause for employment disputes? Does the company use executive contracts, and if so, are they in need of review before new hires come on board?

You should also allocate time to reviewing what needs auditing, either internally or externally. Such audits will help in house lawyers grasp what they should be striving to tackle first, or which functions are performing well and do not need reviewing immediately. Finally, you should also work out what your team’s training needs are, what you can offer, and what you need to outsource. This doubles up as an opportunity to learn who your team are on a personal level, and how individual's strengths contribute towards the successes of the team as a whole.
Tagged In: Careers, In-house
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