An "in-house" lawyer is an attorney employed directly by a corporation. Therefore, an in-house lawyer does not work for a law firm retained by company. Large corporations may employ a whole department of in-house lawyers to service the corporation’s legal needs.

Why Do Corporations Hire In-House Lawyers?

Many corporations engage in various business activities that require systematic legal attention. Hiring in-house attorneys is generally more cost-effective than retaining a law firm.

What Are Some Duties of In-house Lawyers?

An in-house lawyer’s services are frequently required to:

  • Negotiate and draft contracts required for corporate business activities
  • Ensure compliance with hiring and firing anti-discrimination laws
  • Monitor compliance with work wages, hours, and employee benefits laws
  • Provide general legal oversight, compliance, and due diligence
  • Supervise the work of outside attorneys hired for specific purposes

What Can In-House Counsel NOT Do?

While an in-house attorney is more like a family doctor for the entire corporation, corporations often face legal issues, such as disputes, which require specialized assistance. For example, if a legal action is filed against the corporation, an in-house lawyer will not generally handle the lawsuit.

Outside legal help may be necessary in a number of instances. For example, a corporation may wish to hire outside counsel for complex legal disputes or when the corporation’s in-house resources are limited. Furthermore, an officer, director, or employee may need to hire outside legal help from an business attorney who will not have a legal duty to the corporation.