Zopa senior counsel Victoria Matthews talks to The Lawyer ahead of her panel discussion at the In-house Counsel as Business Partner in Association with EY conference, explaining what sets in-house apart from the rest of the legal market.

What is your one prediction for the progression of in-house lawyers?

In-house lawyers deliver the best advice once they’ve really immersed themselves in the business’s strategy, and consequently I think many lawyers will find themselves drawn to business roles over the course of their careers.  Our strong analytical and project management skills are highly transferable to senior strategic or operational roles.

Victoria Matthews

Do you think the lawyers are now perceived as business partners within the business or is a conversation in this remit still necessary?

I think it’s still a work in progress, especially in more entrepreneurial environments where lawyers can be perceived as a hurdle to speedy progression. It’s particularly important for in-house lawyers in these early stage businesses to work to become a key stakeholder in shaping new ideas and not a purely reactive advisory function.

What sets working in-house apart from the rest of the legal market?

The primary difference to private practice is that you are no longer revenue generating so need to demonstrate your value in other ways. For example, it saves the business time, money and frustration that you can contribute to initiatives at an early stage rather than be expected to shoehorn an advanced idea into a compliant or low risk model. You also tend to move away from your specialism and become more of a generalist very quickly, especially in smaller businesses and as you progress to more senior roles. I’ve personally loved that aspect of being in house as I’m always learning.

What has been your favorite holiday and why?

The first time I saw Venice will always stick with me. I’d been obsessed with visiting the city since I was a child and approaching it by boat from the airport was just as I’d imagined. When you live in an amazing city like London you can become blind to any city’s charms, but Venice is truly unique – historic, unrelentingly beautiful and traffic free!

Victoria Matthews is part of the 60+ speakers making up this year’s speaker line-up at The Lawyer’s In-house Counsel as Business Partner in Association with EY on 28-29th October. For more information on the conference, a copy of the agenda, or to inquire about attending, please contact Emma Bower on +44(0) 20 7970 4171