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The benefits for law students who work in-house

After gaining over two years of experience working in-house, Hayden McLoughlin has realised the undervalued opportunities available in this field and encourages law students to “branch out” and not overlook work in-house.

user iconGrace Robbie 28 February 2024 Corporate Counsel
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Hayden McLoughlin is a paralegal at NIOA Group and a final-year law and business student at Queensland University of Technology. Speaking on a recent episode of The Protégé Podcast, he expressed gratitude for his in-house role as it has allowed him to gain a “diverse perspective” within the field of law.

Mr McLoughlin, who describes in-house as being the “GP of doctors” as you “get to touch on so many different areas of law”, suggests that law students who are uncertain about their post-graduation career path should consider in-house experience due to the variety of legal areas one gets to work in while in-house.

“As a junior, upcoming law student, you don’t really know what type of areas of law you’d be interested in,” he said.


“That’s kind of what I love about in-house as well because you touch things from employment law to contracts to competition law.”

“You kind of get a really better idea of, OK, I really like this area of law. I hate this area of law. Or even, is doing law right for me? Is there something else I can do?”

Mr McLoughlin also noted: “You really get to learn fundamentally what the end product of legal advice looks like at a law firm. If you do some sort of work, you might send that off to the client, but then you might not ever hear back. Working in-house, if you do that, you really get to see how that advice [is] translated into a real working operation.”

Despite the evident legal knowledge he has gained from this experience, Mr McLoughlin emphasised the acquisition of other skills that he believes have made him a better law student and a more competitive candidate for graduate roles.

“You learn how to build those business skills as well. One of the key things that you should learn, in my perspective as a junior, is that rapport is one of the most valuable things you can do [in] building a client relationship.

“If you don’t have rapport, you don’t have that trust, then anything you do is pretty much worthless. Because fundamentally, if your client doesn’t trust you, then any advice you put in front of them is just going to be useless,” he stated.

Mr McLoughlin isn’t the only one recognising the benefits that in-house offers.

The 2022 Annual Profile of Solicitors NSW revealed the number of in-house lawyers has more than doubled (104 per cent) between 2011 and 2022.

Mr McLoughlin gives advice to law students who question if beginning their legal career in-house is the move they want to take, commenting: “I think it’s important that a lot of juniors kind of branch out and kind of see what their options are as well. But that’s not to be said that private practice isn’t a great opportunity to learn skills or anything like that.”

However, with the positives come some negatives. Mr McLoughlin acknowledges the evident “lack of resourcing” and a lack of resources that in-house lawyers might receive.

“The general trend of a lot of businesses [is] not going out to external counsel anymore because it’s more expensive. So you’ve got added pressure on the legal team to perform.

“You’re not a money maker in the business as well, so you got those added constraints. So having to really show your value add in the business as well is a key idea to do,” he said.

To listen to the full conversation with Hayden McLoughlin, click below:

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