News release

In-house survey reveals diverse and expanding sector

The in-house solicitors sector is expanding and becoming more diverse than ever, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) research has shown.

More than 2,000 solicitors responded to the SRA's survey. And the responses have painted a picture of a rapidly-growing section with its own challenges.

There are now 25,600 solicitors working in-house, twice the number in 2000 and representing 18 per cent of the solicitor population. The majority, 60 per cent, work in the private sector, most of whom are employed in the financial services sector (30 per cent). Of those working in the public sector, more than half - 18 per cent of all in-house solicitors - are employed in local government, while eight per cent work for the Crown Prosecution Service.

The aim of the research was to provide a detailed map of the supply of, and demand for, legal services by in-house solicitors. This will help the SRA understand emerging regulatory risks and the challenges that in-house solicitors face.

The research suggests that financial pressures have contributed to this growth as many companies choose to have their own in-house counsel where previously they might have outsourced all of their legal service needs to external law firms. The research also points to a better work-life balance for those employed in-house as one of the attractions for solicitors. And the role for the sector has also changed, with many respondents saying their employer involves them in strategic decision-making rather than advising on compliance with the law.

Richard Collins, SRA Executive Director, said: "The in-house sector continues to thrive, grow and develop and it is important to ensure that regulation in this sector remains relevant, effective and proportionate. "Not least among these challenges is the indication that in-house solicitors are experiencing conflicts between their organisation's decisions and their own professional obligations. Many in-house solicitors are in a role that also involves providing advice to third parties outside of their organisation, and potentially linked to that, it would seem that there is an appetite among some organisations to convert to an ABS.

"The research also confirms the need, if we are to deliver relevant, effective and proportionate regulation, not to treat the in-house sector as a single, undifferentiated, cohort to which we apply a single regulatory approach. ”

The research can be viewed in full here:

Go to the research