Offering training contracts in this sector may be risky – but ultimately worth it.

According to the Law Society’s latest Annual Statistics Report, private practice continued to provide the vast majority (93.1%) of trainee placements. Within the in-house community, commerce and industry and local government were the only sectors taking on more than 1% of the total trainee intake.

This is perhaps not surprising news. Providing a breadth of experience is difficult for smaller in-house legal departments. This is less of a problem in the public sector with its numerous departments of all types and sizes.

But in-house teams should not underestimate what they can offer to a trainee.

At a recent Law Society roundtable discussion on in-house training contracts, general counsel attendees discussed the advantages of offering a training contract:

  • The trainee operates in an active commercial environment, getting to know the business and exposed to clients from the start;
  • Trainees develop commercial business acumen quickly;
  • Trainees get to see how business decisions are made. They not only get to see the ‘end game’, they are able to contribute to it;
  • Trainees are developed to become more than just lawyers, they become trusted business partners.

The rewards to be reaped are plenty, not just for the trainee but also for the in-house team which has helped to grow and shape the trainee into a valuable member of the organisation.

That said, as one GC warned, don’t underestimate the risk that, at the end of two years, the newly qualified in-house lawyer could leave. Not only have they become a valuable commodity to the organisation, as someone who deeply understands the needs and processes of the business, but they will also become desirable to law firms wanting to bring that business acumen and commercial awareness to their practice.

The question is, is that a risk in-house teams are willing to take? The in-house sector has continued to grow. The Law Society report registered a 0.6% rise year on year to employ 21.1% of all PC holders. The reasons for wanting to work in-house are now many and compelling.

I would suggest it is a risk worth taking. 

Monidipa Fouzder is a Gazette reporter