In house lawyers – sometimes referred to as 'in house counsel' – have numerous advantages over private practice lawyers; in this article, we lay out some of the key advantages (in no particular order).
In house lawyers are more commercial
Private practice lawyers have a reputation for being too cautious and their advice often involves a black or white analysis of the law. Of course, many businesses, particularly small businesses, need solutions instead of blockers and require a more commercial approach. In-house lawyers tend to be significantly more commercial in their outlook than private practice lawyers as a result of the fact that they are embedded within a company, they understand that 'no' is not a viable answer in the majority of situations and that, for a lawyer to give maximum value to a company, a healthy degree of commercial outlook is needed.
A significant benefit of an in-house lawyer is cost effectiveness. Private practice firms tend to be either enormous entities which have vast infrastructure which needs to be paid for through high fees, or they are small high street firms which don't have the breadth of knowledge of an in-house lawyer. Costs can also rise steeply in private practice depending upon the specific legal work involved. If you are a company which already uses private practice solicitors for general commercial work, have a look at the billable hours for your external lawyers, you are likely to find that those sums fall dramatically if you use in-house lawyers, and further still if you use an HPLpro freelance in-house lawyer.
As an in-house lawyer gains more experience from working within companies they also gain more experience of both the industry and the specific business. It is extremely difficult to obtain that kind of advanced knowledge of the specifics of a company from a private practice position. This is vital, as the advice of any lawyer will be shaped by their understanding, or lack of it, of your business.
In-house lawyers are excellent at identifying risks and the more depth of knowledge a lawyer has in respect of your business the more risks they can identify and deal with. Often, the first time that a small/medium sized business or start-up involves a lawyer is when something has already gone wrong, which oftentimes is way too late, whereas an in-house lawyer can proactively spot and resolve issues prior to there being a problem.
In-house lawyers tend to have more breadth of knowledge than private practice lawyers and this is due to the fact that they are exposed to all and any legal issues that arise for a company, be they related to regulation, legislation, mergers and acquisitions, litigation, contracts and so on. This means that having an in-house lawyer is a bit like having ten private practice lawyers rolled in to one!