The difference between in-house legal teams and the law firm

Helen Teague, Legal Project Officer at Wellcome Trust, delves into the differing infrastructure, resources and needs between In-House legal teams and Law Firms…


An in-house legal team is part of a wider organisation of non-lawyers. Work from the organisation with a legal element, but where legal advice is not required does not necessarily come to the Legal team. This means when we are considering new organisation-wide technology we need to look at it primarily from the non-lawyer’s point of view. This means the in-house lawyer will likely be spending time finding facts, meeting the internal client, assessing needs. A vendor should not underestimate the length or importance of this part of the internal due diligence process.

By contrast, at a law firm, the bulk of staff are likely to be legal, so bringing in new technology will mostly be seen from a lawyer’s point of view. Any change will be approved by the partners (in the case of a partnership), led by the IT team and imposed, with little involvement of lawyers other than at the user training stage.

The in-house legal team also considers the impact of technology changes in a wider infrastructure sense, for example, technical integration with other IT programs (which may be many and varied);

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Helen Teague

Helen Teague

Wellcome Trust
Helen is a Project Officer in the Wellcome Trust Legal Team. She helps to evolve current internal and legal-led systems. Previously a solicitor in private practice, acting for charities, Helen has a deep interest in charity structures and governance, and volunteers for several charities in her free time.