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Why you should consider an in-house training contract

updated on 04 April 2023

Reading time: three minutes

My journey to in-house

After leaving university in 2021, I knew I wanted to become a solicitor but faced the obstacle, as many budding lawyers do, of getting a training contract. I was fortunate enough to be part of a social mobility organisation called STRIVE. At the time, it had an exclusive partnership with Flex Legal to place six candidates on its brand new FlexTrainee scheme – one of the few and first training contracts to fully embrace the Solicitors Qualifying Exam. After being nominated by my STRIVE mentor, submitting a cover letter, completing an assessment centre, multiple rounds of Flex Legal and client interviews, I was in.

While I was absolutely ecstatic with my brand-new training contract, I was a tad nervous and unsure of what to expect in my new role. At university, if you wanted to become a solicitor, the only route I knew about was private practice. I knew there were a vast array of firms, from high street to the magic circle, but I knew very little about the in-house legal functions in corporations or the public sector.

Fast-forward 18 months, I’ve trained in the financial services industry for a year with the UK’s largest long-term savings company and for five months at an international London law firm on secondment. I’ve had the pleasure of working on some brilliant deals with amazing colleagues as well as coming across opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I’d not trained the way I did. I’m super passionate about the in-house training route into law and have listed some reasons below as to why you should consider this path too!

Why in-house?

1. Truly varied work

If you’re working within commercial law, it’s likely you’ll be expected to work on a variety of legal issues that could span from anything on intellectual property to negotiating service agreements. As a trainee, this is great exposure to your organisation and a great way to get stuck in and figure out what type of work you find interesting very early on. It’s also a fantastic way to learn about several practice areas.

In my second seat, I worked with counsel on an array of projects; from supporting the contracts for the launch of innovative financial products to a specialised data protection project. If you’re the type of person who loves a variety of work and a new type of challenge on your desk every day, then you’ll appreciate the varied nature that comes with working as an in-house lawyer.

2. Thinking commercially

For in-house legal counsel, your ‘client’ is the business in which you’re working. At university and law school, you learn the black letter law but being commercially aware demands more than this. Training in-house enables you to develop your commercial awareness very early on – you start to gain an understanding of how industries and businesses work. This is brilliant because you have the inside scoop of what a client actually wants at the very beginning of your career. This will serve you extremely well for your legal career as you’ll be able to deliver advice in a form that will be useful for any client.

3. Making a direct impact

One of the biggest senses of achievement I feel is when there’s a tangible outcome and/or impact. As a trainee lawyer, this feeling is unparalleled. Working in-house means you’re working with the business on an exciting deal, often from its inception to its launch. You can physically see where you’ve made contributions to the project. Not only is this great experience to put on your CV as you’ve worked directly with stakeholders in the business, but the skills you learn at this level will also hold you in good stead for your career.

Jordan Yohannes is a trainee lawyer. You can contact Jordan via LinkedIn or Twitter.