• Katie Barker

Philip Singleton - Trainee Solicitor at Co-op

Updated: Mar 15

Philip Singleton

Trainee Solicitor at Co-op


In many ways my path into law is a well-trodden one: law degree, paralegal job, LPC, training contract. However, that translates into 5 years of university education and 4 years of paid legal work both in private practice and in-house covering insurance, personal injury, real estate and litigation.


"Every year that you spend without a training contract should make you a better candidate."

This brings me onto my first tip for aspiring in-house lawyers – take your time. Career deadlines work for some people, but for me the focus has always been on doing something interesting that aids my development as a lawyer. This is why I did the BPTC when I knew I probably wasn’t going to pursue a career as a barrister and it’s why I spent time in private practice before moving in-house. Every year that you spend without a training contract should make you a better candidate. This was certainly true for me, and experience has brought with it the comfort of knowing I’m in the right career for me.


"I would recommend actively keeping an eye on the recruitment pages of businesses you identify with. This is how I found my paralegal job with the Co-op."

My second tip is relevant to any job in any industry, but particularly for in-house lawyers – know your business. That means both before and after you get the job. In-house roles (especially training contracts) are rarer than private practice opportunities, and the best way to stand out when one does come along is to really understand the business you are interviewing for. Taking this a step further, I would recommend actively keeping an eye on the recruitment pages of businesses you identify with. This is how I found my paralegal job with the Co-op. I knew I wanted to move in-house, but I also knew Co-op was a great and unique business that I wanted to work for. Where a company is only looking to fill one role, they will always be hoping for a candidate who is enthusiastic about their product and understands their objectives.


"Contrary to the common perception of in-house lawyers as “blockers”, you should be aiming to facilitate and add value. The only way to do this successfully is to build relationships within your business."

My final tip stems from the main difference between private practice and in-house – business partner. As an in-house lawyer you are not just expected to give solid commercial advice, handle transactions or litigate claims. Contrary to the common perception of in-house lawyers as “blockers”, you should be aiming to facilitate and add value. The only way to do this successfully is to build relationships within your business. Leave the warm embrace of the legal team every now and then, and go to sit with the people who typically instruct you. A 30-second conversation one day could prevent a million-pound claim a year down the line.


"...the secret to success as an in-house lawyer is being in the right rooms to have the right conversations at the right times."

In my experience, the secret to success as an in-house lawyer is being in the right rooms to have the right conversations at the right times. It’s safe to say I haven’t completely mastered this yet, but the best thing about this career is the opportunity for constant development. Life doesn’t end if you haven’t secured a training contract at the earliest possible opportunity. Just keep learning and you’ll get there.

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