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ABOUT IN-HOUSE PRACTICE

In-house practitioners are crucial to the daily function of the corporations and organisations they represent.

This program focuses on the commercial aspects of being an in-house lawyer. The law is covered, but always in the context of the commercial realities faced by in-house counsel.

 

PROGRAM OPTIONS

Graduate Diploma in Applied Law
(In-house Practice)
- 2 core subjects (IHP101, IHP102)
- 2 IHP electives
Master of Laws (Applied Law)
majoring in In-house Practice
- 3 IHP subjects
- 4 elective subjects or a second major
- Capstone project in In-house Practice

SUBJECT DETAILS

IHP101 - Foundations of In -house Practice

This subject has been developed around the core issues faced by in-house lawyers and the unique environment in which they must discharge their legal and professional obligations. Serving the interests of just one client brings both opportunities and tensions.

With their professional qualifications, training, experience and ethical commitment to serving the public interest in the administration of justice, corporate and government lawyers can offer far more than simply providing legal advice. They can influence good governance and compliance in their organisation, as well as broader risk-management concerns. They can act as both facilitators for their client’s objectives and as guardians of their client’s long-term interests.

In-house lawyers must be able to communicate effectively and deal with all organisational levels up to the board and the directors. The in-house role also requires a thorough understanding of the risks the client faces in its operations. From a management perspective, in-house lawyers must understand how to provide appropriate service levels, optimise execution and yet manage costs while achieving scale in both of these areas. Professionally, the in-house lawyer must be prepared to withstand challenges to their professional independence and integrity.

TOPICS

  • Working in-house and in the private and public sectors
  • Challenges for in-house lawyers – balancing the roles of facilitator and guardian
  • Communicating effectively in an in-house environment
  • Balancing your role as facilitator against your compliance obligations
  • Understanding professional duties – maintaining confidentiality and privilege
  • Duties and statutory requirements
  • Managing your own risk – limiting your liability if something goes wrong
  • Briefing out – an introduction to engaging external legal providers and managing the relationships and costs

 

IHP102 - Managing Disputes

This subject deals with issues likely to be faced by an in-house lawyer who has been asked to advise on steps to reduce the cost or inconvenience of disputes, to act in the interests of a company or a government agency in dispute management and in other contexts that require an understanding of dispute resolution processes. This practice-based subject advances on the key knowledge and skill required in an in-house role.

TOPICS

  • Understanding the role of the in-house lawyer
  • Dealing with legal and business risk
  • Managing complaints effectively
  • Dispute management processes
  • Managing electronic communications
  • Freedom of information
  • Legal professional privilege
  • Dealing with external lawyers

 

IHP111 - Acting as a Company Secretary

The role of the company secretary has evolved since the corporate collapses of the 1990s (notably HIH Insurance Ltd in Australia), the High Court decision in Shafron v ASIC (2012) 247 CLR 465; [2012] HCA 18, and the global financial crisis (GFC) and subsequent collapse of many highly leveraged businesses.

Irrespective of organisation size or type, the board will look to the company secretary not only to perform administrative tasks, but to provide it with timely information about policy, compliance and governance matters. As a trusted advisor and custodian of corporate knowledge, the company secretary needs to understand their own role as well as the related functions – legal, risk, audit and compliance, and ensure that they do not become an alternate and perhaps conflicting source of advice.

The company secretary is now expected to be a focal point for assurance and better practice on the law and procedures, and also for better practice that underpins board decision making and good corporate governance. Company secretaries need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to discharge their duties effectively.

TOPICS

  • The role of the company secretary
  • Managing the relationship with the board
  • Company secretaries; corporate governance and key responsibilities
  • Managing company information
  • Conducting meetings
  • Acting as a company secretary in public sector organisations
  • Assessing board performance
  • Managing board performance

 

IHP112 - Managing the Legal Team

Senior management will usually judge the legal team on its contribution to the organisation’s key objectives. To achieve this outcome, the legal team’s technical legal skills must be supported by effective management. This subject deals with the principles of legal practice management in a corporate or government context and covers some of the knowledge and skills required to manage a legal team. This subject provides foundations to develop advanced and integrated understandings about effective management skills for in-house lawyers.

TOPICS

  • Understanding the value of the legal department
  • Structuring the in-house legal department
  • Contributing to strategic planning
  • Communicating effectively for the in-house legal team
  • Managing a crisis
  • Planning and managing a budget
  • Developing effective management systems
  • Managing people - recruiting the legal team and performance management

 

IHP116 - Multi-Disciplinary Project Management

Project management encompasses a broad range of disciplines and skills. It is a recognised profession and becoming increasingly relevant to in-house counsel as they execute legal matters and provide support for major business projects. Both internal and external clients now expect senior lawyers to be familiar with project management concepts and to be able to apply these to their legal matters and the legal work streams of major projects. This in turn will reduce the executional risk of strategic business programs which are the mechanism by which major organisations deliver on their strategic objectives; build and deliver new products; and undertake process improvements.

The primary objective of this subject is to introduce lawyers to the concepts of project management and to provide concepts that can be applied to legal work when appropriate. You will become familiar with recent trends in legal project management; the various components of the project life cycle; and a lawyer’s role and contribution at the various stages of the life cycle.

TOPICS

  • Introducing project management
  • Initiation - defining the project
  • Planning
  • Analysing and allocating risk
  • Execution: directing and managing, monitoring and controlling
  • Execution: conducting tender processes
  • Post-implementation reviews
  • Legal project management

 

IHP00 - Capstone Project

The Capstone Project is taken as your final subject, as a culmination of the knowledge and skills attained throughout your major. It will allow you to demonstrate your skills in a specialist practice area using real-life scenarios and case studies.

Throughout the intake, you will receive individualised feedback from your lecturer and will also have access to a rich array of skills modules that include guides, samples, and practice exercises for honing your legal skills.

The highlight of the Capstone Project is the final task, where you will prepare a Final Portfolio that demonstrates your legal writing, research, and oral skills.

THE SUBJECT HAS FOUR COMPONENTS

  • Four short answer questions
  • Two legal writing samples
  • Oral communication (e.g. client interview) assessment held through online conferencing
  • Reflective analysis of oral communication

 

INTAKE DATES

 

ADVISORY BOARD

  • David Cosgrave, General Counsel, Sports Drug Testing International
  • Tony de Govrik, General Counsel and Assistant Company Secretary, Probus South Pacific
  • Dion Gooderham, General Counsel & Company Secretary, Catholic Church Insurance (CCI)
  • Angela Taylor, Principal, Taylored Law
  • Chris Woodforde, Head of Corporate Affairs, Asia-Pacific at Bird & Bird
  • Emma Zipper, previous General Counsel & Company Secretary, Bupa ANZ

 

TEACHING STAFF

  • Jairan Amigh Corporate Governance and Legal Professional 
  • David Cosgrave Director, Legal Services, University of Southern Queensland
  • Craig Smith Adjunct Lecturer, The College of Law and Lecturer, Queensland University of Technology
  • Jean-Paul Wallace General Counsel, CPD Contractors

 

FURTHER READING