A number of recent internal scandals have put the role of in-house lawyers in the spotlight, and raised the thorny question of how they can simultaneously fulfil their contractual duties as employees whilst also ensuring that they meet their overriding regulatory obligations.
It is an obvious statement that an in-house lawyer is an employee of their employer and owes a contractual duty of fidelity and good faith to them. However any General/in house Counsel holding a Practising Certificate is also bound by the Solicitors Code of Conduct and the SRA Principles. Those Principles confer on solicitors, among other things, duties to uphold the rule of the law and the administration of justice, and to act in a way that upholds public confidence in the solicitors’ profession. Furthermore, in house solicitors are required to act with independence, and to avoid a position where their own interest in a particular matter prevents them from being able to advise their client (in this case their employer) impartially.