Emma Norman, Senior Legal Counsel of Invesco, shares how the asset management company started a training programme for in-house lawyers. Emma has worked as an in-house lawyer for around four years. Prior to that she worked at magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for eight and a half years. She also trained and qualified at the firm.
How did the training programme evolve over time?
Emma says that Invesco have had trainees for a number of years. But it had “always been on an ad hoc basis”. The company would bring in juniors and paralegals and if they had a desire and if there was a business case for it the company would then convert their positions into training contracts. The trainees took the Legal Practice Course (LPC) part-time, while they worked. In the last year or so Invesco decided to formalise the training programme and recruit two trainees every year, who would then work on a two year fixed term contract. At the end of the two years the trainees may then be kept on at the company as qualified lawyers. That would depend both on the needs of the business at the time and on what the trainee wants, Emma says.
Why did Invesco decide to formalise the training programme?
The legal team realised that it “suits their business needs to have a constant influx of juniors at that level” Emma says. For Emma one of the biggest advantages of the programme is having trainees who rotate to different areas of the business and they can assist the legal team in understanding various parts of the business and the role of the legal team in those departments. They can then share that knowledge with the rest of the legal team.
She says “having a steady stream of trainees coming through is allowing us to think more strategically by leveraging the fact that they’ve seen all these different bits of legal” in the business.
Another reason for formalising the programme is “to attract the best talent, who, for whatever reason, may not have quite managed to secure a training contract at a law firm” says Emma. Emma says the company then also has two years “to show the trade-offs for working in-house”, so although salaries at law firms may be higher the recruits can see first-hand what the benefits are of working in-house.
What are some of the challenges of setting up an in-house training programme?
Emma says one of the challenges of training lawyers in-house is that a business “does not have the infrastructure that a law firm has”. So, that includes infrastructure around formal technical training and training lawyers in softer skills. She says there are “fewer formal structures”. Emma says the roles at Invesco are numerous and not dedicated to legal in the same way it would be at a law firm. She says the team is learning a lot in this process and they are “constantly seeking continuous improvement”. She says they ask trainees for feedback on what is working and what needs to be tweaked.
Emma’s advice to others on starting an in-house training programme
- Creating structure around the programme is important, Emma says. But she takes an agile approach and warns “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” She advises to think of the needs of the business right now, rather than aiming to have a perfect training programme “tied with a bow” as the approach in private practice might be.
- Clarify the expectations of the trainees, which includes the SRA requirements and internal competencies you may have for junior lawyers
- Creating an induction document. Emma says that within a business, especially one the size of Invesco, there can be a lot of complexity, regulation and there can be some fragmentation. So, an induction document that does some “jargon busting, introduces the team, the trainees to the team and different people” in the company is very helpful, says Emma.
- Remember the soft skills. Emma says “the technical stuff will come quite easily, because the trainees in-house will really be on the front lines and thrown into things very quickly dealing with the business from week one”. But she says it is important to help trainees with softer skills such as presenting for example.
You can watch a video interview on Crafty Counsel with Emma Norman here
Emma is a Crafty Counsel community member of the FTSE & Friends group. You can find out more about the Crafty Counsel community groups here.