Lawyer to explain in-house 'mystique'

IN-HOUSE lawyers are foreigners on their own soil – misunderstood by employers who fail to grasp their legal language and distant from the purists in private practice.

But now one of their number is setting out to interpret the work of the employed sector by putting together a translation.

Richard Bean, litigation manager with Yorkshire Electricity, is carrying out detailed research into the in-house lawyer's role.

He is embarking on a part-time PhD which involves canvassing the views of a representative cross-section of lawyers in commerce and industry.

The five-year research project, being carried out with Leeds Metropolitan University, aims to build on the work of Karl Mackie, author of 'Lawyers in business'.

Bean, a former legal executive who went on to qualify as a solicitor, is looking at the theory of professions. The second part of his research will focus more specifically on in-house lawyers.

“I think it is very exciting. I hope it will answer a lot of questions and will be of interest to private practice as well as to commerce and industry,” he says.

Bean worked in private practice before switching in-house with East Midlands Electricity. He then had a two-year spell working with law firm Gadsbys in Derby before joining Yorkshire Electricity.

He says that there is a definite difference in the working practices of the two sectors and the aim of the research is to explain how and why this is the case.