find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Solo in-house lawyers on the rise

Solo in-house lawyers on the rise

stress

An increasing number of companies are hiring an in-house lawyer for the first time, but being a sole legal counsel has its challenges, a recent report has found.

Mahlab’s Roundtable Report, released in November, revealed that sole legal counsel are presented with opportunities to grow professionally but also face unique obstacles in their role. The report was based on a discussion between 28 lawyers from companies of varying sizes across a range of industries. 

“A major attraction of the sole legal counsel role is the autonomy it provides,” the report stated. ‘Solos’ create the legal function “from scratch” and have a greater sense of ownership and satisfaction in their job, according to Mahlab.

The autonomous nature of the role can also lead sole counsel to feel isolated, both from the rest of the business and the rest of the profession. The report found these counsel tend to seek out greater participation in industry associations and networking events to address this isolation.

Solo legal counsel generally have a broad role across legal, regulatory, compliance, human resources and OH&S legal matters. This is a “refreshing change from the specialist ‘silos’ of private practice” for many lawyers, according to the report.

The role can also include a seat at the leadership table and corporate governance responsibilities, which gives the legal function “visibility and credibility” across the business. “The ability to contribute to the direction of the business is a key attraction for lawyers in a sole legal counsel role,” the report stated.  

However, the lack of resources can be a source of frustration for sole legal counsel, who need a very “hands-on” approach, according to the report. Tasks that could be outsourced to a paralegal, such as lodging regulatory forms or updating websites, must be done by the sole counsel.

In the roundtable discussion, the sole counsel suggested some solutions to alleviate these challenges, including hiring law students and offering practical legal training and delegating non-legal administrative work to other parts of the business.  

Sole counsel often operate under tight budgets and tend to engage external firms in specialised areas of law, such as finance and employment. Smaller boutique firms that offer flexible billing options and capped rates are preferred to international firms.

“Few solos said they had strong relationships with the international firms,” the report stated. “There appeared to be general dissatisfaction with international firms because they have been unable to foster positive working relationships with the solos." 

The report continued: “The general sentiment expressed was that partners of such firms are very distracted with other matters, they are inflexible with fee arrangements and they are more interested in courting larger client work.”

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending


Solo in-house lawyers on the rise
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 18 2017
Summer in the city
Across Australia, a number of law students have kicked off their commercial law aspirations with the...
microscope
Dec 18 2017
‘Exorbitant legal fees’ under government microscope
With the growing number of class action proceedings in Australia, the government is looking at how ...
Funds, money, cash
Dec 18 2017
Law Access WA receives welcome funding
Law Access Western Australia has received a grant from the state government to fund its pro bono leg...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...