A Strong Voice for In-house Counsel

Image: Jason Rosewell

There was a time when, if you told your friends you were moving in-house, they would look at you as if you had just announced that you were giving up law for a career re-filling vending machines. The standard thinking was that in-house was the end of any serious legal career.

Not so now, and for at least the last decade; companies have long woken up to the advantages of having legal advice and (if needed) representation on tap. They have also noticed that managing external legal budgets and advice panels is a lot easier when you have an in-house lawyer to oversee the process.

The bottom line is that in-house counsel is the new black, and new and diverse career paths are opening up for solicitors in corporate and government teams across the board. Those roles, however, bring new challenges and often do not fit completely within the standard legal role, or indeed the rules and legislation which governs them.

To ensure that this sector of our membership is heard, and that Queensland Law Society (QLS) can advocate for progressive and effective reform in relation to in-house counsel, it has established an in-house counsel committee.

The committee, chaired by one of the in-house world’s leading lights, Phil Ware, and comprising of a group of experienced and competent in-house solicitors covering a broad range of in-house practice, the committee will provide a voice to in-house counsel across the state. The committee’s responsibilities include:

· identifying and addressing both actual and potential issues facing in-house solicitors;

· facilitating involvement of the profession and other stakeholders in the education and support of in-house counsel;

· creating resources to assist in-house counsel in their unique roles;

· reviewing and commenting on legislation which pertains to in-house counsel; and

· working with QLS President and counsel to advocate for law reform in relation to in-house counsel.

The committee has already begun working on a number of projects, including the creation of resources to assist in-house counsel in maintaining their independence, and seeking changes to the rules and legislation to better accommodate the realities of in-house legal work in the global, interconnected legal environment in which they work.

QLS members working in-house who have issues they would like the committee to address, or who would like to contribute to the committees’ work, should contact the Ethics and Practice Centre at ethcis@qls.com.au