In-house law departments exist in many big businesses and organisations that have identified the economic benefit of having their own in-house law team as opposed to commissioning outside firms. This is increasing in organisations like the Co-Operative and PwC and work can be found in the banks too e.g. Barclays has a big in-house department. Although in-house used to be looked down upon, this is no longer the case.
There are two main streams which enter in-house. The largest stream is qualified lawyers who are headhunted from practice. The smaller stream is juniors who join with little prior experience – training contracts tend to be offered as and when the business need requires it, with only a few structured graduate schemes available.
Training contract opportunities
As in-house legal departments advertise training contracts as and when the business need requires it, there are few formal graduate schemes (see next heading) so a student wanting to get into in-house legal work should keep an eye out for opportunities as and when they arise. Opportunities are advertised on:
It is important that anyone applying for a training contract (whether in-house, at an ABS or in a commercial or private firm) is clear about what the training will consist of, and should be happy and informed about the level of training they will receive.
Companies who have been known to offer training contracts to graduates in-house include Tesco, EDF Energy, Vodafone, Nokia and Ernst and Young to name but a few RBS. A fuller list can be found at the Legal 500.
Formal graduate schemes
Few formal in-house graduate schemes exist:
- BT - work towards your LPC whilst working, choose seats to as part of your third year
- PwC - work as a trainee solicitor, working towards your LPC and during your training contract
Other routes into in-house legal services
As part of the training period, some private and commercial law firms allow and encourage secondments to in-house operations. A useful opportunity to see if in-house work is for you, and to make a good impression and potentially be head hunted by the company themselves.