Pro bono work and non-executive roles could help in-house lawyers progress their careers, senior legal figures have advised.

Sarah Davis, group commercial legal director at Guardian Media Group, told a Law Society in-house division seminar that taking on non-executive directorship roles can help to challenge the stereotypes and prejudice that in-house solicitors face.

Davis, who is chair of arts and performance charity Poet in the City and a governor at the University of East London, said non-executive roles can help solicitors gain real-time experience of a board role.

Last month the Society announced that the Government Legal Department was one of the 21 founding signatories of its landmark pro bono charter.

Law Society general counsel Pieter de Waal told the seminar that pro bono work is not only an essential service but good for advocacy skills.

De Waal holds judicial appointments in the information rights, administrative appeals and environment tribunals. He said: ‘It takes on a different part of the legal world. You get to be in a courtroom environment, especially if you don’t do that in your day job. Part of what we like about being an in-house lawyer is you do not deal with law much, you deal with business. But you do go cold on the law sometimes.’

De Waal began the judicial element of his career as a lay member. He said: ‘It is an opportunity to get into that environment. It’s flexible and fairly easy to balance with your day job if you have a reasonable employer.’

Society council member Stephanie Boyce, interim head of governance at the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, advised solicitors to network and hire a good recruitment agent.