In-house lawyers have complained about being inundated with irrelevant emails about COVID-19, RollOnFriday's poll of over 130 in-house lawyers has found.

Respondents were asked how law firms can best help them with the impact of COVID-19, and many said that they wanted to be given commercial, client-focused advice, rather than being bombarded with generic emails. "Stop sending bloody updates on Covid and the corporate governance act. I'd rather have a call and someone tell me what they think it'll mean for my company," said one. Another requested an end to the "45 emails a day telling me how to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and clogging my inbox." Another agreed, saying: "if I want help, I will ask for it."   

"Focus on significant changes" said one, rather than the "scatter gun COVID-related invitations". They added that firms are "producing output for the sake of it because they're not busy, but many provide no answers and aren't particularly substantive."  One in-house lawyer grumbled: "stop sending badly targeted updates eg. all the nonsense about force majeure." Respondents said that, instead, they wanted more training and webinars that were specifically relevant to their business.


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"It has spread at an alarming rate - it started with just one email, now there's a COVID update every twenty minutes."


In-house lawyers said that they were under increasing time constraints due to the pandemic. "We're busier than ever," said one, "so any advice we receive needs to be prompt, pragmatic, clear and concise. We don't have time to read equivocal essays which always default to a conservative view." 

Another said that "more so than ever", external advisers had to be "proactive with how they can assist me/the business". Adding "I simply don't have time to chase up poor deadline management from firms - this is the easiest way to get in my bad books and take yourself out of contention for the next instruction. "

Firms should be "succinct with their advice" and "mindful that workload has increased for many of us - we are doing business as usual, as well as Covid-19 work," said another.

Respondents said that in these difficult times, firms needed to take particular care to ensure advice was commercial and client-focused. One in-house lawyer said they had noticed a "stark difference" when instructing two firms with a "similar stature" on client insolvency issues. One firm had "suggested a commercial strategy that ultimately led to reducing our exposure by over a million pounds", said the respondent. The other firm "wrote us a pretty advice note that essentially said 'these are the relevant clauses of your contract and these are the relevant laws', but didn't actually propose any approach." The frustrated respondent said: "In-house teams don't generally instruct externals to be told what our contracts say, we're looking for the best way to leverage favourable outcomes."

Another respondent complained that they had paid £15,000 for advice on specific projects from a City firm on two occasions, but both times "we ended up not relying on the advice as it made recommendations that were outside the market standard and ignored our standardised contracting principles that we provided them."

A number of respondents pointed to their budgets being cut, saying it was essential for firms to be "innovative with their fee arrangements" and offer "flexibility." Others said that value-add services would be appreciated, with one respondent stating that secondees "at cost" would be "mutually beneficial as it helps us and allows firms to keep staff." 

One in-house lawyer put forward a bleak proposition to firms: "Be willing to let profitability fall in the short term to ensure clients can survive".

 

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Comments

Anonymous 07 August 20 08:51

I wish my firm would listen to this feedback. For months now they've been peddling all manner of general shit relating to Covid when, as far as I can tell from speaking to my in-house contacts, all clients were interested in was running their business as close to normal as possible.

Anonymous 07 August 20 09:09

Client: Horizon scan for me tell me about what my business needs to know. I want this for free mind.

Lawyer: Sends relevant email targeted at sector with common problems identified.

Client: Can't you do this in a webinar? I'll get the whole team involved and stand you in good stead for next job *taps nose*. I want this for free mind. 

Lawyer: Arranges and preps webinar and client's paralegal and manky dog turn up.

Client: Sorry about that, now about alternative fees, what can you do?

Lawyer: Produces a range of carefully modelled alternatives: capped, staged, success etc, etc.

Client:  All looks a bit complex to me, can't we just do hourly rate less 20%? Pandemic going on you know. Ps - can you put some gays/lezzas/trannies on the team next time so I can virtual signal the diversity piece. 

Lawyer: *facepalm*

Anon 07 August 20 09:28

And in addition to firms directly sending out all manner of general shit (Covid and otherwise) us in-housers also get bombarded by a whole range of rubbish from firms via LinkedIn written/liked/commented on/forwarded/shared/peddled by those partners (and associates) who are LinkedIn junkie whores - it’s like crack cocaine to them. When will they realise that hardly anyone is interested and it just looks desperate. 
 

piece of advice: think long and hard about what you are about to write/like/share/peddle directly and indirectly via the likes of LinkedIn. Think: would Slaughters do what I’m about to do?

ShootyMcShootyface 07 August 20 09:38

Nice to read that, Anon at 09:28.

Don't understand the amount of time some people devote to Linked In. As you say, no one outside a very small bubble reads anything on it, so far as I can tell. The only reason I can see for people keeping it up to date and posting stuff is so that, when recruitment consultants look them up, they can say "Oooh, nice, a full and active Linked In profile. That'll save me a lot of work."

Me too 07 August 20 09:47

We have a black gay guy in my team [email protected] The in-house Lawyers all love him (as do HR and the partners in the firn). He is quite embarrassed by  the attention and openly says he knows that he gets pulled into deals and “initiatives” so that they can all frantically virtue signal their wokeness to eachother. He got asked to be in the firm’s brochure but declined. 

Anonymous 07 August 20 09:48

My old firm had a partner that joined in February. He hadn't been able to port any clients yet. For 6 months now he had been churning out rubbish articles on the website and promoting them on LinkedIn. He and the firm think it's having a presence and positive marketing. What it actually shows is they have little fee earning to get on with. 

Lawyer 07 August 20 09:49

This is interesting and something that lawyers clearly need to be mindful of. One thought would be to tip this on its head and ask could and/or would clients offer lawyers training on their businesses for free?

Dearie 07 August 20 09:56

@09.09 - It sounds more like you don't understand your client. Try calling. Everyone knows "alternative fees" means cheaper so just tell them up front what sort of figure you can do it for. If they're that awful, just say no. 

Anon 07 August 20 10:22

@Dearie 07 August 20 09:56

Quite right; if the client pisses around nickel and diming on fees and are awful to work for then just decline to work for them. 
 

a partner I used to work for would decline to work for “problem” clients if they started mucking around. He wasn’t shy about it either. 

Shiny bell ends 07 August 20 10:23

I think we are all pretty sick of shit bag in house lawyers who think that they are God.  Most couldn’t hack it so went in house.  Once in house they commence their unpleasant behaviour towards those who can hack it and are good at their jobs because it makes them feel less inadequate.

Buzz words

innovative - cheaper/free 

flexible - secondments for free

understanding - recognise we want it cheap/free

So whilst we laugh at your shit jokes and tolerate your thick smart arse comments you need to understand something.  Many in house lawyers are utterly despised, viewed as socially (and probably sexually) inadequate failures who we wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.

I accept there are a few who are alright but the majority I’ve met are utter bell ends.

Surveys like this confirm that the bell end gene runs deep in the failed and inadequate (in house) lawyer pool.

 

 

The return of Rumours 07 August 20 10:33

Dear bellend

Your piss poor attitiude and obvious chip are obvious.

There are good and bad lawyers in both PP and IH - your pompous blowhard rant above does nothing but make me think you have issues with your self image.

I had a very successful career at the Bar before I elected to go in house rather than take Silk. I probably earn more than you by a considerable margin, and work nine to five without having to suck partner tubesteak all day.

I'm pleased you can "hack it" though - enjoy.

 

 

 

What a shiny bell end 07 August 20 10:40

@Shiny bell ends....you're the reason that in-house legal teams were invented, shield normal people from awful lawyers and stop companies having to line the pockets of people like you.  

Footsoldier 07 August 20 10:46

@Anon 07 August 20 09:28

 

It isn’t just in-housers who are sick of the shit being put out there by firms. Fee earners in practice are sick of it too. Some of the partners, and associates trying to climb the greasy pole to partnership by doing no phucking work but engaging in self promotion, in my firm are just an embarrassment when it comes to posting and liking utter shite under the guise of a marketing initiative. Honestly, it’s utterly embarrassing to be associated with it! I took three weeks of annual leave at the start of lockdown (and was locked down at home) rather than get sucked in to the utter shitfest of Covid marketing bullshite and associated LinkedIn wankery. 

Anon 07 August 20 10:50

"we're looking for the best way to leverage favourable outcomes"

I find it hard to express in words what I feel about people who say things like that. 

I earn considerably more than yow 07 August 20 11:16

Surely if you define yourself by what you earn then you are a bell end? 
Not sure the rant in reply to the bell end rant helps the cause much.  
Looks like a doubling up of bell ends tbh.  A near QC in house bell end and a private shop bell end.  
 

Adam Otto von Bistram 07 August 20 11:28

Don’t forget the rise of the junior morons posting plenty of self promotion on LinkedIn such as “humbled to attend an open day” humbled to receive an offer from a [third rate] law firm” “honoured to be waking up” etc and their stories of the perpetual struggle to secure a training contract with only a GNVQ in Instagram etc.

I despair at the future of the profession.

Crime pays but in house pays better 07 August 20 11:33

With a filthy mouth and attitude like that the “I coulda been a (QC) contender” is probably a former criminal barrister.  

When the bell tolls 07 August 20 11:34

This is a lot of angst for a Friday morning, is it the heat?  Admittedly, I have no interest in receiving another Covid update, but feel for the associates made to crank them out. Apart from Bellend that is. 
 

 

Mr Knuckles 07 August 20 11:43

Holy Christ.

just woke up with a hangover and thought I’ll read ROF for some light relief whilst the coffee and fried egg and sausage sanger do their work but what I find is serious angst for a gorgeous Friday morning. Is it a tight pants day? 

in house or PP - it’s all horses for courses with good and bad on both sides.

Covid marketing bollocks has had its day so let’s move on.

Linkedin-shitery has also had its day but some folk suckle at its teet; let’s leave them be with their activities and everyone else can move on to other things.

is 1200 noon too early for a G and T

 

Ted 07 August 20 13:04

Speaking as an in-house lawyer, I can’t say receiving  newsletters/emails irks me too much; just auto-direct to your Other inbox or similar. Also to be fair to PP lawyers, why should I expect targeted bespoke free advice? I can’t say I mind paying for that, and with good relationships with our firms I can just pick up the phone to X or Y PP lawyer and ask for a chat.

Anonymous 07 August 20 13:20

@10:46 - wondering if I have worked at your firm based on your description. Big Manchester HQ by any chance? 

In house 07 August 20 13:34

@Lawyer 09.49

...We actually do... we give a full run down on how our business functions and invite them to spend an afternoon with the team all in the hopes that they understand what we actually need .... mixed results so far.

Anon 07 August 20 14:11

@bellend

Many in house lawyers are utterly despised, viewed as socially (and probably sexually) inadequate failures who we wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.”
 

What a frankly bizarre comment.  Looks like someone has got real anger and mental health issues.   Apart from the obvious chips on both shoulders and insecurity which scream from the post, as well as strange anger directed at thousands of people the poster has never met, but who purports to judge based on their job title, the claims are not true anyway.   Many in-house lawyers (e.g. in banks or hedge funds) earn more than their private practice colleagues and have better bonuses and chose to leave private practice for better careers.  The poster seems to have self loathing issues.  The kind of person that makes deranged allegations about other people’s sexual lives based purely on what type of lawyer they are needs clinical help urgently.   

U Fuqr 07 August 20 14:54

What a bunch of miserable, moaning bastards. Ooooh, well pardon me for trying to help you with your business.

Mr. Big 07 August 20 16:01

There are three types of self-serving LinkedIn [email protected]:

[email protected] 1: I have just posted a fantastic article. A must read for [email protected] like me.

[email protected] 2: My colleague, [email protected] 1, has just posted a fantastic article (link). A must read for [email protected] like us.

[email protected] 3: Absolutely humbled by to have read a fantastic article by [email protected] kindly shared by [email protected] 2 (link).

 

 

Anonymous 07 August 20 17:06

Interesting to see the bell end rage post has 20 thumbs up likely from pp lawyers who agree and 26 thumbs down likely ih lawyers who do not agree.

That’s 20 people who are likely to have had a bad experience of ih lawyers.  That’s quite a high proportion and ih lawyers may wish to think about that.  At least 2 posters have responded with extreme anger.  1 has, in a shouty rant, suggested the bell end poster may have mental health issues but is that really an appropriate insult to dish out in this day and age? 
I don’t think so and the person dishing that insult out should be ashamed and get some diversity training in. 

ShootyMcShootyface 07 August 20 17:10

Mr Knuckles

is 1200 noon too early for a G and T

-----------------

No.

Crack on.

Apologies for taking 5 hours 9 minutes post-midday to confirm.

A. Tede 07 August 20 17:48

If chippy git in housers don’t like shiny bell end calling them on their chippy gitness, maybe they shouldn’t slag off PP lawyers who earnestly and in the spirit of helpfulness send them updates that probably do convey important updates on how their business may be affected by changes in law and circumstance. If only they could find time before getting out the office at 4:45pm for virtual Zumba class to read them.

Anon 07 August 20 17:56

20 people is representative of 143,000 practising solicitors?  Even if half are in house 20 out of about 70,000 is representative that most PP solicitors think most in house lawyers are sexually inadequate?  This is beyond bizarre.  Seriously.  The heat must be getting to you.   

Anon 07 August 20 18:26

@ Anonymous 07 August 20 17:06

On your own approach, then, the post to which you object hasn’t at the time of writing this had a single down vote.  It is hardly a rant - certainly compared to Bell End’s post.  It also doesn’t mock the writer, but rather points out that it is perverse (and possibly indicative of other issues) to insult people and their sexual exploits, particularly when you don’t know them, purely because they happen to be a particular type of lawyer.   You should criticise that approach, rather than the response to it.  

Wildoats 07 August 20 21:20

All in house lawyers have been in private practice. Very, very few private practice lawyers have been in house. Private practice lawyers are SMEs on their particular practice areas. Collectively however what all private practice lawyers possess is a jaw dropping ignorance of commerce. I’ve sat on both sides at board and partner level. Lawyers are exquisitely brilliant at what they do, but they don’t run businesses. A law firm is not a business, it’s an operation. If it were a business, it would have a value and let’s be honest, none do,
 

In house lawyers tend to get hired by companies for their talent in a given legal specialism. Shortly afterwards it becomes abundantly clear to them that their colleagues only see the title “solicitor” and rightly expect them to deal with anything legal, which they do by swiftly learning to rely on themselves and their wit and not a raft of colleagues pigeoned holed in narrow specialisms.
 

The suggestion they couldn’t “hack it” in private practice is naive. It takes guts to go in house. They are better lawyers than those in private practice for the simple fact they understand, implicitly, how legal advice fits into the commercial environment. In house lawyers give actual opinions, every day which are acted upon and which result in real outcomes. PP lawyers don’t do that and in fairness ought not to be asked to.
 

Personally I’ve never understood why in house lawyers ask firms for advice. It doesn’t make sense - that’s the job of an in house lawyer. Of course they ought to instruct firms to handle transactional work, but not to opine on a legal matter concerning their employer. I always went direct to a barrister for an opinion. They’re cheaper, quicker and  better. 
 

Firms should email in house lawyers with generic advice on common and recurring legal issues. Employment, IP, land law etc - the areas that actually present commercial risks to the business That’s what they need, not missives on the minutiae of legally fascinating but entirely irrelevant topics. Firms would be well advised to help in house lawyers, not try and show off to them.

To the thrusty young go getter arguing in house lawyers can’t “hack it”, I salute you. I’d also wait until 5pm on a Friday to instruct you on an urgent matter, because you’re a prat and deserve to be treated as one.

Anonymous 08 August 20 00:45

Wildoats, I agree with the thrust of what you’re saying, however as a few of points of information to consider:

1. Re “all in-house lawyers have been in private practice”, observe the existence of in-house training contracts.

2. The definition of ‘business‘. 

3. The potential liability of firms vs in-house lawyers. It’s more straightforward to give an unvarnished opinion when it won’t come back to haunt your insurer later. 

 

@ 18.26 08 August 20 05:39

But isn’t waiting until 5pm to instruct a pp lawyer exactly the sort of bell end behaviour IH lawyers are renowned for?  That sort of petty and vindictive approach is at the heart of the issue isn’t it?  Your final point badly let’s you down I’m afraid. 

Anon 08 August 20 07:16

“Personally I’ve never understood why in house lawyers ask firms for advice”

Answer: because (1) you can sue them if they get it wrong (2) you don’t have capacity to deal with the details of a complex piece of work when you have numerous queries from the business that need to be answered very quickly (3) the specialism of the private practice lawyer may be different to your own 

“law firms aren’t businesses”

Answer: they meet the definition of business - they are run for profit in the market, sell services, have to comply with Companies Act requirements, and clearly are businesses. 

 

Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 08 August 20 08:35

"Personally I’ve never understood why in house lawyers ask firms for advice"

LOL. Especially massive LULARAMA at the notion of barristers being better at giving advice than solicitors! Pull the other one, it wants you to send it a letter with a little curly ribbon on before it'll talk to you.

Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 08 August 20 08:37

"A law firm is not a business" is another cracker. If that's the case, how come they make so much money?

Neck and neck in the Bell End Maiden Hurdle 08 August 20 09:02

Pretty much a 50:50 split on the bell end post.  That’s a lot of lawyers with a beef against IH lawyers.  I’d say those lawyers are likely to have been on the wrong end of some crappy IH lawyer behaviour.  The extreme views expressed may have gone too far but there does seem to be something in what is being said whether the IH group like it or not. 

Anon 08 August 20 14:03

Private practice lawyers seem to have a view of in house lawyers which is anecdotal and even then only based on seeing a small part of the role.  I’ve worked both in private practice  for a MC then US firm and have moved in house in industry in the last 12 months.  

There is no one singular type of in house role or lawyer just as there isn’t for those in a law firm.   Some on house roles are very specialised, highly paid and have high visibility with the senior management that are as tough if not tougher than PP as they demand not only technical ability but a wider range of other skills.  Other IH roles are generalist and it’s true that they don’t make the same demands on lawyers as PP and are a bit of a soft option.  

What I have learned in my role is that the expectations are different - in private practice getting the law right is the primary aim, and even as a senior associate you have limited client contact and don’t run deals and aren’t exposed to decision making processes or the client’s business to a significant degree.  In an IH role, the volume of problems on your desk is often greater but the complexity level differs from horrendous and messy to simple, so you can’t spend all day drafting a contract or doing one task as you can in PP - you would simply get overrun.  The business stakeholders want answers very quickly and you need to be able to take decisions promptly, often with incomplete information, and have very good judgment.  
 

You are also exposed to very senior people in the business and need to be aware of politics, and have a very broad skill set and strong emotional intelligence and the ability to flex skills.  In PP you have the luxury of not working for your client directly as your employer and may go days or weeks without contact.  In an IH role, your client is your boss - a director, or CEO - and you come under a lot of pressure to not be a blocker even where ethical issues might arise.   You also don’t have the supervision structure where you can run things by a partner.  You need to be able to make decisions on your own.  Having the ability to be confident and clear in challenging senior people you work for but also preserving relationships is not something that PP prepares you for.  
 

Also you need to be able to master detail when a big project arises ever so quickly, so that when it is needed, you are ready to advise the board very quickly, but judge when a query is simple and can be answered swiftly.   You are a far more integrated into the business and get to know many areas (HR, BD, and all the operations and the senior people who run the company) and need a good working knowledge of a wide area of law and also non legal issues. I am often asked to advise on issues that I didn’t practise and it’s not good saying you’ll pass it to, say, your litigation department - as you would do in PP - because internal stakeholders see you as a lawyer and expect you to be able to give them a clear view.    Using outside counsel is expensive and needs to be justified  
 

That said, the level of rigour at times isn’t required as it is in PP all the time where there are rarely one off queries that require a one hour consideration and there is also a more competitive atmosphere because partnership is seen as the carrot and hours tend to be longer as there is a direct correlation between chargeable hours and pay / progression.  
 

Ultimately, the two roles have similarities but are also very different.  They require different skills and it’s a mistake to write off IH lawyers.  
 

 

GC 08 August 20 14:18

I don’t know about other in-house counsel but for me the key thing for pp lawyers is to give us good quality advice, on time and on budget. If you do that you will get repeat work from me, simple as that. 
I could make a list of things that make a real difference and emails about Covid wouldn’t be on it.

Running up a stream 08 August 20 20:09

Made redundant or have a consultation with Irwin Mitchell over the coming weeks welcome to the new normal comrades......

3-ducks 09 August 20 09:22

"I always went direct to a barrister for an opinion. They’re cheaper, quicker and  better."

100% agree with this, and everything else Wildoats said.


 

Anonymous 09 August 20 14:00

I've just counted. BLM has issued 101 press releases in relation to COVID-19. The emptiest barrel makes the loudest noise.

Fighting.For.Justice 09 August 20 18:01

I'm a xx-year qualified private practice lawyer who decided in 2002 to never act for an in-house counsel ever again.

Imagine how p1ssed I am to find myself on a deal with a public company - whose collapsed share price / impecuniousness has caused them to 'try to do the deal without external legal support' (a euphemism for none of their panel wanted to act for them - at least not for the fees they were proposing).

I cannot begin to outline how painful it is to have the General Counsel loudly proclaim in all party page-turns that there is no need for me explain issues from first principles (= 'I must be doing it for my client's benefit - as they are fully aware of the issues etc.); and then ten minutes after the meeting the GC is on my phone asking me to explain aspects, and (then understanding the position) requesting that I suggest how the GC can manoeuvre themselves to have re-inserted provisions into the documents they've just spent the best part of half an hour resisting. 

S8d all is achieved by the GC involved - until a cr*p set of draft(s) / question(s) appears about Half Past Six on a Friday afternoon - with an expectation that the private practice lawyer(s) will have sorted it by Monday first-thing.  

If you consider most GCs as 'Legal Procurement Manager(s)' you won't go too far wrong . . . 

Anonymous 09 August 20 22:07

@ Fighting For Justice.

If your work is as sloppy as your clumsily worded (and profoundly confusing) comment, I wouldn't even instruction you to boil an egg.

Anon 10 August 20 06:58

A random sample of City law firms and the scale of their Covid coverage (number of hits on their websites on searching “Covid”)

NRF - 267

Slaughters - 234

Ashursts - 304

McFarlanes - 109

HSF - 351

WFW - 123

A and O - 432

CMS - 585

ROF should produce a league table of Covid-puffery by City law firms.

Instruction you to boil an egg 10 August 20 21:03

Make sure when you call somebody out you get it right yourself.  Arse.

Snoop doggy dog 10 August 20 21:23

Do you clowns not have any work to do. This is comical. PP/IH does it really matter. Pros and cons to both. Get on with your life you dreamers 

Anon 12 August 20 09:34

“Get on with your life you dreamers”

This is a comments section for issues arising within the legal sector.  No one is suggesting we are going to find the meaning of life.  But what else do you expect on such a comments board?  It’s called free speech and you’re not the arbiter of who should say what - if you don’t like it don’t read it and don’t comment yourself. 

Anonymous 12 August 20 16:02

Also, he doesn't appreciate the idiocy of complaining about the posts while not only having read the posts but then posting about the posts.

Anonymous 12 August 20 16:42

@Anon 06.58, 10 August

Crazy, isn’t it. It’s almost as though it’s causing some legal issues. 

Snoop doggy dog 13 August 20 06:19

“This is a comments section for issues arising within the legal sector”

A discussion about whether a PP or IH Solicitor is better is not an issue arising in the legal sector. 
 

Thanks for proving my point x

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