Starting a new decade with an in-house counsel

Sarah Ingwersen In-house Lawyer, Recruitment, Market Insight...

Why recruit an in-house lawyer?

Appointing a first in-house lawyer is a major decision for any organisation; involving both financial and commercial commitment and buy-in. As we commence a new decade against the back drop of an imminent exit from the EU, CEOs will likely come under even more pressure to closely scrutinise the constantly evolving legal needs of their businesses.

There are often a number of quick wins that can instantly justify the cost/ benefit analysis of a first-time legal appointment, as well as longer term, intangible benefits.

Tangible Benefits

We typically see companies look to hire their first in-house lawyer once their annual external legal spend exceeds c.£250,000. Appointing a mid-level to senior lawyer for c.£80,000 - £100,000 who can bring a large portion of external work in-house can allow a company to fair quickly reduce their external legal spend particular in relation to general commercial contracts or routine legal work.  However a number of our clients are cognizant of the fact that appointing their first legal counsel does not complete eradicate the need to external legal advice, particularly for discrete areas of law outside the skill set of their in-house counsel (depending on their skill set of course) such as corporate, employment, tax and litigation.

Intangible Benefits

Whilst savings on external legal spend can often be achieved by bringing the legal work in-house, cost save is rarely the prime motivating factor for a company when deciding on appointing their first lawyer. The commercial advantages of having a lawyer embedded within your business are often far-reaching and an extremely intangible benefit to measure. Strong in-house lawyers are able to think and act strategically, adapt to the nuances of the business and offer legal advice in a commercial context. An in-house lawyer will very quickly get to know the key stakeholders within an organisation and the commercial hot spots and issues they need to be aware of. This can assist greatly with risk assessment and providing proactive and commercially-minded legal advice especially  when business critical processes are affected.

As regulatory changes continue to effect the way companies conduct their business, there is now far more pressure, at Board level, to ensure that the necessary legal and regulatory framework exists with the business. As the IPO market once again continues to gather momentum, there are significant commercial advantages of having an in-house lawyer on site to oversee and manage this process.

Reporting Lines

There are various schools of thought on who an in-house lawyer should report to. A lot of the decision depends entirely on the level that the lawyer is brought in at;

  • General Counsels:

Typically  report into the CEO and ideally to ensure complete impartiality; the Board. However if the CEO is more of a figurehead (particularly prevalent in owner/managed businesses) then occasionally we see the General Counsel reporting to the CFO

  • Sole Counsels:

Typically report into the Finance Director or CFO

How can Taylor Root help?

Whatever the reason a company has for hiring their first in-house lawyer, Taylor Root has been supporting organisations navigate this space for many years. We regularly provide detailed insight and support to CEO’s and HRD’s on scoping out a position description for a first in-house counsel as well as advise on the most appropriate route to market and recruitment process. Further, we have a programme of events for both General Counsels and Sole Lawyers and as such are extremely well connected within this community. As a result we feel that we have an unrivalled level of expertise and experience to assist you with you first in-house legal hire.

Download the full guide below.

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