When on the hunt for a training contract, it’s not just the big name law firms you can consider. There are also in-house legal teams that offer law school graduates a coveted training contract.
What do in-house lawyers do?
There are over 20,000 in-house lawyers in the UK, and the company they work for generally dictates the legal work that they carry out. For instance, a large architecture company will have their lawyers specialising in construction, planning and environmental law. Alternatively, the BBC’s in-house training contract involves one seat on IP law, a commercial seat and a seat with the rights, legal and business affairs team.
In-house lawyers must also be able to work with contracts and have a good knowledge of employment law. They must also ensure that a company sticks to the rules in its day-to-day operation.
Why consider it?
In-house lawyers work for just the one client – their employer! As a result, the work-life balance is usually slightly better than if you were to work for a solicitor firm. There may still be some late nights, don’t get us wrong, but perhaps not as many as there might be at private firms.
Differences to a ‘normal’ training contract
The first major difference is that there isn’t always in-house training contract opportunities. It should be well ingrained in your brains by now that the deadline for training contract applications for private solicitor firms is July 31.
However, although loads of companies (more later, stick with us) have permission to offer training contracts, most recruit on an ad-hoc basis. As a result, the number of people who start an in-house training contract every year only represents around 3% of the total number.
Additionally, you may not have much flexibility with regard to the seats you undertake. We only need to look back to the BBC example to see that that organisation want their trainees well versed in specific areas of law that are key to their interests and day-to-day operations.
With regard to your career path, whilst you may be able to head up the in-house legal department of a company, the reward for doing so may be significantly less than the annual salary of an equity partner. This is a consistent theme with in-house work, your pay check is always likely to be lower than those handed out in private practice.
Which companies have in-house opportunities?
There’s no centralised list of companies that offer in-house legal training contracts, but here’s a sample of companies that have legal departments:
- JP Morgan
- Manchester United
- The Body Shop
- Virgin Media.
In-house training contracts are certainly an alternative worth exploring, but be warned, there aren’t many knocking about!