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In House Practice

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

This programme 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.

Studying an LLM (Applied Law) with major of In-house Practice enables:

  • Private practitioners moving in-house to develop their skills
  • In-house practitioners to work more effectively in their role



IHP101NZ 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 both act as 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 aspect, in-house lawyers must today 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 however be prepared to meet challenges to their professional independence and integrity.

Specifically, the subject will:

  • provide you with a practical understanding of the role of the in-house lawyer in both government and the private sector
  • explain the distinction between legal advice and policy or commercial advice – and why this distinction is important
  • cover the in-house lawyer’s ethical and professional obligations
  • explain how to maintain your duty of confidentiality and your independence, and how to avoid, manage and resolve conflicts of interest
  • explain legal professional privilege and client legal privilege in the in-house context
  • explain how the in-house legal role involves managing and optimising the delivery of legal services, including the use of external legal providers and how to do this effectively, while controlling costs, and
  • explore the meaning and importance of corporate governance.

Topics in this subject include:
  • Acting in the private and public sectors
  • Challenges for in-house lawyers - balancing role as facilitator against role as guardian
  • Drafting effective reports, advices and other communications in an in-house environment
  • Understanding the role of the director and the board
  • Understanding corporate governance and risk management
  • Balancing your role as facilitator against your compliance obligations
  • Managing your own risk – limiting your liability if something goes wrong
  • Understanding professional duties; maintaining confidentiality and privilege
  • Recognising conflicts of interest and duties; complying with statutory requirements
  • Briefing out: an introduction to outsourcing external lawyers; managing the relationship and costs
IHP102NZ 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 subject deals with the various ways in which the in-house lawyer may be called upon to represent the interests of the company or government in dispute management (including litigation) and in other contexts which require negotiation skills. The subject also examines some of the practicalities of managing both internal and external disputes, including inter-departmental co-ordination and enlisting the support of senior management.

Topics in this subject include
  • Understanding dispute management
  • Managing complaints effectively
  • Identifying dispute management processes
  • Managing electronic communication
  • Managing information and documents
  • Implementing document retention policies
  • Maintaining legal professional privilege
  • Managing external lawyers
  • Managing interlocutory processes
  • Managing the discovery process
  • Quantifying claims
  • Representing the client
  • Dealing with negotiation and mediation
IHP111NZ Acting as a company secretary

The in-house lawyer is frequently tasked with a dual role as company secretary. Developing core governance competencies is an integral part of this role; the company secretary is 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 in this subject include
  • Understanding the role of the company secretary
  • Balancing the roles of the in-house lawyer and company secretary
  • Managing the relationship with the board
  • Applying corporate governance principles
  • Understanding the accountability of company secretaries
  • Acting as a company secretary in public sector organisations
  • Managing company information
  • Conducting meetings
  • Assessing and managing board performance
IHP112NZ 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.

Topics in this subject include:
  • The in-house legal team and the organisation understanding and communicating the value proposition
  • Leading the in-house legal team – managing strategy and structure
  • Managing the budget, the people and crises
  • Selecting and managing external lawyers
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 programme's 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 in this subject include:
  • 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
IHP00NZ Capstone Project

The Capstone Project is taken as the final subject in a major. Drawing from the skills and knowledge you have acquired throughout the program, the Capstone Project will challenge you to integrate these skills and apply them effectively to sophisticated and realistic legal scenarios. There is a strong focus on practical experience and active learning; your performance throughout the subject will be continuously evaluated through a series of assessments.

Throughout the semester, 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.


These Applied Law programmes are delivered by The College of Law Limited in Australia which is a self-accrediting Higher Education Provider within the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) regulatory framework. The programmes are fully compliant with the Australian Qualifications Framework at Masters level. The College has delivered these programmes for over 10 years and is now the second largest provider of LLM qualifications in Australia.

It should be noted that these Applied Law programmes are not accredited by the NZQA.


Further reading