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Help needed from in-house lawyers!

(14 Posts)
Interviewnervy Tue 10-Oct-17 06:04:31

I've just heard I have an interview soon from what is on paper close to my perfect in-house job - large experienced team, interesting work, decent hours (the word overtime was mentioned!) and probably an increase in salary. Obviously there are downsides but before I worry too much about them I need to get the job.

I'm looking for tips on interview prep! I can't disclose the sector (would be outing) but it's a company that covers a very broad range of areas (I anticipate everything from construction to transport to consumer law) and I would be looking at commercial contracts. Recruitment consultant is fairly vague on what that means in reality.

What can I swot up on?! I'll obviously look at the company itself but was wondering about hot topics and anything particular to think about from a working in house perspective (obviously I get all in-house teams are different but I can't talk to any of the lawyers I know about this).

I'd be going in about the 4-5 year PQE level.

Thoughts from private practice lawyers appreciated as well of course.


LionsTigersBeers Tue 10-Oct-17 06:13:13

Have a good think about what you perceive to be the key risks facing the company and what steps you would take to minimise those risks/eradicate them.

I recently went through this process (successfully!) and was asked to discuss my best and worst working experiences.

I was also asked a lot about my previous inhouse experience (I had done inhouse secondments while in private practice).

Good luck smile

aliceinwanderland Tue 10-Oct-17 06:15:25

Will it be a competency based skills interview or technical interview do you know?

If the latter don't forget Gdpr -even if you don't cover anything else! Also the new NEC contracts if construction will be part of your remit.

Prepare also for competency based questions eg -tell us about a time you effected change/handled a difficult relationship/ made a mistake. For broad based roles adaptability of skills and knowledge are the key to success. Companies also don't want their in house lawyers to be yes women/men. Often their job might be finding a legal route to do something or saying no to internal customers.

Interviewnervy Tue 10-Oct-17 06:16:43

Thanks. That's a good idea. I haven't done secondments but have (pre-law) worked on the business side so I'll have a think about what I can take from that.

whereiscaroline Tue 10-Oct-17 06:25:13

Yes to GDPR. Also think about how you'd balance legal advice with the commercial needs of the business. The fact that legal teams in house can often be seen as a bottleneck, the brakes on the "car" of the business - how would you avoid/mitigate this whilst still giving sound advice.

Interviewnervy Tue 10-Oct-17 06:32:53

They already made me sit a two hour exam reviewing contracts so I assume this will be primarily competency based. Tips are great, keep them coming.

aliceinwanderland Tue 10-Oct-17 06:40:31

If it is competency based its worth researching how to approach these questions. I think the civil sevice job site might have stuff on it.

Common errors include not identifying the role you played as an individual. Eg saying we did .... . You need to say exactly what your personal contribution was how that improved things/ managed the postion/ achieved a result. Depending on the company they might also be looking for the ability to recognise how you could have done things better -continuous improvement - and to reflect on a situation to see how you, and others could improve.

Also, if you get asked something really left field it is better to have a pause while you try and think of a good example rather than rushing in with any old rubbish!

Interviewnervy Tue 10-Oct-17 06:45:02

Rushing in with any old rubbish us definitely one of my issues. 😀

aliceinwanderland Tue 10-Oct-17 06:47:35

Well recognising it is half the battle! grin

HollyTr Sun 15-Oct-17 19:22:54


I would think about differences between the role of a lawyer in practice and in house eg in practice generally deal with an in house lawyer, in house generally deal with commercial people with varying levels of legal knowledge. Also how will you add value to advice received from practice - answer is about linking to business strategy etc. And understanding that you are not the decision maker, you advise the business and it’s up to them to decide as long as you have escalated appropriately etc.

A hot topic in house is also operational efficiency ie how can you provide your service to the business to offer the best value. You could ask them what they do on this eg do they automate production of simple contracts?

Agree on GDPR.

Good luck, in house is much more compatible with family life though I do miss the buzz of practice!

JoanBartlett Mon 16-Oct-17 09:12:18

Are you my daughter..... eeek. No you are not as she got her job but it's all so similar and she also had the long exam thing. It must be becoming standard for these in house jobs. I am not in house but have talked to her at length before various in house jobs and interviews, not that I am an expert.

You have obviously done very well to get through the exam stage and to the final interview. it sounds like they gave you particular contracts for the exam. They might well ask you about those contracts in the interview - eg they might pick one topic on them like exclusion of liability and chat a bit about that. They might just also chat to see how you all get on (daughter ended up talking about her musical instrument which was on her CV - not disclosing she had not played since grade 8! - close shave - as the interviewer played the same one, but my point is just try to find something in common with the people interviewing).

Everyone is right that the new data protection regulation might be worth looking into a bit -the ICO has just issued some guidance on it in relation to contracts by the way and there is a UK data protection bill and also some new EU regulations still in draft on email marketing which if the company does that might be relevant.

Brexit can have huge implications in some areas of law - the EU produced an intellectual property position paper last month relating to Brexit (not that it says very much). If they do construction at least know there are standard construction contracts out there eg MF1 and all kinds - I never have to get into them but they are a world of their own.
You mention consumer law so again quite specialist with rules requiring even certain words to go on the forms given to consumers which again I just know are very complicated but just be aware they exist. If they sell on line to consumers there is a lot of internet law on that such as on distance selling it could be worth looking at - consumer contracts regulations giving rights to cancel etc.

I suspect the final interview is to see though if they can get on with you and if you sound okay in person so I would not worry too much about learning loads of new law and in fact if it's something you don't know the less you say about it the better.

Actually Holly's points are good too. Things like moving to electronic signature/contracts, management of contracts, controlling subsidiaries around the world, who looks at what work, who pays for external lawyers and when are all relevant although with quite a few lawyers already there the systems will be in place so not so likely they would want you to set anything up once there.

I agree with Lions that they are likely to ask you about previous work so have something (positive) to say about that.

Interviewnervy Tue 17-Oct-17 05:27:14

Thanks everyone. Still no news on an actual interview date (which the recruitment consultant assures me isn't reason to worry but then he would).

Does anyone have thoughts on a response to 'why do you want to move out if the private sector' that isn't untruthful but doesn't make me look like I only want to work there because the hours are better?! Truth is the hours are a massive draw but I wasn't actively looking. I've always wanted to move in-house eventually but this is a good sized team (so people to learn from) and the work should be really decent on top of that.

JoanBartlett Tue 17-Oct-17 08:51:31

I would not worry too much about that question. Loads of people move in house. I think my daughter just said she wanted closer contacts with the business of the client (which is true - she is really enjoying being involved very closely with the business and lots of in house lawyers find that difference and like it).

it is really hard to know what interviewers want. I have had countless calls from her over the last few years (which I have quite happily had a go at answering) but I don't really know. Sometimes it just depends on the personality of the people who are interviewing you. Just be positive, try to avoid any long silences, smile, look smart (I always think it's better to be over than under dressed for the interview even if the company is known for shorts and T shirts) but all those things are pretty obvious.

Good luck. I think it's a slightly easier market to find jobs in at the moment than a few years ago after the credit crunch but there still is a lot of luck in it so if it doesn't work out there will be another one.

aliceinwanderland Tue 17-Oct-17 10:06:29

You can be up front about the work/life babalnce if that is true. In house teams like to use this as a selling point as their salaries tend to be a bit lower. But from what you've said there will be quite a range of work and that might be another draw.

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