In-house lawyers have been spilling the beans in the RollOnFriday In-House lawyer survey. If you've left private practice for life in-house, please do fill in the form below. 

So far it has revealed that in-house lawyers are sick of the inability of private practice lawyers to provide clear, concise advice. "Cut out the BS" advised one in-house lawyer, "I am continuously on conference calls that last 2 hours instead of 45 minutes because someone likes the sound of their own voice". They added "I appreciate it can be a tool when used in the right time and place" but "don't use it on me when you are my lawyer."

Another in-house lawyer blasted an external adviser for smothering them with "several pages of waffle and countless opinions with no snappy decision at the end". They were particularly angry at having to pay for it. Private practice lawyers "include all their workings out", he said, and then seem to "charge by the word for it".

Other in-house lawyers objected to feeding and watering their external panel. "Pick up the tab for the taxi/pizza" urged one client who felt it was unfair that they had to pay "just because my work was done late at night". They also commented that "printing charges at 10p per page" should be "overheads for the firm" rather than passed on to the client.  

However, not all firms were accused of penny-pinching. One client praised DAC Beachcroft for its generosity in hosting team training days. The firm had "genuinely interesting people to talk to and I rarely have to pretend to take a call to avoid interacting with them".


Phone

When the lawyer started talking shop.


Simple freebies still have their place. An in-house lawyer admitted: "still a sucker for a nice pen - the student mentality never leaves me, no matter how many years have passed".  Another agreed that it was "hard to beat a Slaughters' propelling pencil".* 

However, not all perks go to plan. Addleshaw Goddard was ridiculed for the "massive faux pas of inviting the external secondee" from a rival law firm to an event, "but none of the actual permanent lawyers in the team who instructed them". Another respondent complained that other firms offered "too many Swingers events". Presumably a reference to urban-golf in London rather than car-keys-in-a-bowl soirees in Radlett.

* Stationery is low at ROF towers. All donations welcome.

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Comments

Anonymous 05 April 19 10:05

Slaughters have a good stationery game going on right now, but the One Essex Court pen is clearly where counsel's fees are going. Weighty, sober, serious and with a certain gravitas even when you're using it as a vehicle for delivering absolute nonsense. Very on brand.

Gobblepig 05 April 19 10:47

"Other in-house lawyers objected to feeding and watering their external panel. "Pick up the tab for the taxi/pizza" urged one client who felt it was unfair that they had to pay "just because my work was done late at night". They also commented that "printing charges at 10p per page" should be "overheads for the firm" rather than passed on to the client."

Firms on panels generally have to agree to swingeing discounts that erode the profit element largely away. You can jolly well pay for our pizzas, printing costs and other disbursements, and feel free to kiss our collective cinnamon rings.

Anonymous 05 April 19 11:29

I disagree on the pizza/taxis...if clients want us to get their deals done outside usual working hours, this seems like fair game to me. If I'm risking my marriage because I'm late getting home for the umpteenth time this week because of your deal, the least you can do is pay for my dinner and get me a taxi home.

But I do agree with printing costs, we should wear that cost. It is a massive pet peeve of mine when they appear on a bill which I'm approving before it gets sent to clients.

auld 05 April 19 13:16

As somebody who works in marketing, I fully applaud this trait. If lawyers could write what they actually meant in a way that actual human beings could understand, I'd be out of a job.

The streets would be awash with desperate-looking comms execs, hassling commuters. "Format your doc for you sir?". It would be like the Walking Dead, only with more trendy glasses.

jeff 05 April 19 13:17

It's a pleasing irony that marketers tend to spend most of their time producing (ie translating into English) technical legal content whilst the lawyers are at their happiest when agonising over the best freebies.

Anonymous 05 April 19 14:12

The point I think that was being made, from the actual words used, was that the work could’ve been done during the normal business day and that just because it was being done at night the additional internal costs of the firm meeting its employer obligations should not be borne by the customer.  Plainly, if the work needed to be done overnight then passing on such costs is legitimate.  The message being: a firm should not charge its customer more just because it doesn’t have the right resources in the right place at the right time.

In my jurisdiction the Law Society imposes record-keeping obligations in relation to client work that mean the “working” has to be shown on file somewhere but often what is sent to clients is prolix.

Anonymous 08 April 19 11:22

" Another in-house lawyer blasted an external adviser for smothering them with "several pages of waffle and countless opinions with no snappy decision at the end".  "

Completely agree about the waffle, but some of my colleagues seem to forget that it isn't external counsel's job to make the decision for their client.