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Construction Lawyers: Tips on Going In-House

The economic downturn in the UK over the last few years has pushed businesses to look around and expand into the global emerging markets. Likewise, within the construction industry, many contractors and project management consultancies have taken advantage of the construction developments across Asia.

As with any standard contractual agreement whereby two parties enter into a contract, you’re more than likely to find a team of lawyers behind the drafting and contracting process between the parties of a construction contract. Lawyers are required from day one to ensure that contracts are negotiated to the advantage of the client, to the smooth deliverance and completion of the project. Of course, disputes are likely to arise along the way, and where it does, lawyers are sought out for legal advice and appropriate action.

The legal landscape is changing, and it is becoming increasingly popular for construction companies to adopt an internal legal counsel within their business units. This may be due to the fact that expanding businesses are restructuring themselves in order to cut down on external fees wherever possible. Hiring in-house lawyers is an attractive option at a time when outside legal fees may be as high as, or even more, than the costs of going in-house.  With this in mind, coupled with the increase of construction projects across Asia, many companies are now looking for lawyers to be planted in their core business units across this region of the world.

For a private-practice lawyer thinking of making the jump over to in-house, here are a few general tips and guidance that you should take into consideration:

The need to be commercially aware and business focused
In-house lawyers are not merely legal advisors; they also often become decision-makers within a business. Therefore, it is essential to have a core understanding for the business needs both in corporate structure & compliance issues, as well as an understanding for the commercial side of things. 
Ability to assess risk and preventative practice
In-house lawyers need to be particularly aware of technical and legal implications well in advance. This might involve keeping up to date with corporate legal & compliance regulations, or seeking out legal advice earlier at the planning of contractual transactions in order to minimise opportunities for problems arising on a project.

Be prepared for work load and wide responsibilities
In-house lawyers are consulted on a wide range of matters that might not otherwise have been permitted to be incurred on external legal fees. Moreover, many companies now focus on hiring specialist solicitors that might have previously been left to external lawyers. Going in-house may require more responsibility in terms of leading and training other staff members in compliance, and also managing and liaising with external lawyers more effectively.

Maxim Recruitment now covers legal recruitment for both in-house and private practices with a specialist focus on construction law. We are proud to take our market knowledge and recruitment expertise from years of experience in servicing the construction industry into the legal sector. If you are a qualified lawyer with a background in construction law or dispute resolution and looking for new opportunities, please review our current legal vacancies and submit your CV to a job or on a speculative basis. 

Best wishes,
Kardia Leung
Maxim Recruitment Hong Kong
Legal and Claims Division

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