The role of in-house solicitors

In light of the changes in the way legal services can be provided—not least the recent introduction of alternative business structures (ABS)—the SRA wanted a clear, up-to-date understanding of the motivations for employing solicitors in-house and the challenges that these solicitors might face, particularly where the regulatory objectives of the SRA could be at risk.

Bringing together comprehensive data from the Solicitors Roll, existing literature and two surveys (online and by phone) with a broad mix of in-house solicitors and organisations employing in-house solicitors, this study provides an in-depth appraisal of the current dynamics of in-house legal services provision. It shows how the sector has doubled since 2000, with more than half working in the private sector, and the remainder primarily employed in the public sector (the third sector accounts for just 3%). The comprehensive nature of the surveys allows for the data to be analysed in many different ways, to answer the questions that are likely to arise as policy develops and the SRA’s informational needs change. It also shows that the regulatory risk factors vary considerably within the overall category of in-house solicitors.

In addition to establishing a comprehensive picture of the current market for in-house legal service provision, the study provides a tool for the SRA to use to monitor changes in this growing segment of the legal services market, and provides a basis for prioritising regulatory oversight.