Law Society of Scotland publishes ‘Who is your client?’ guide for in-house lawyers

Law Society of Scotland publishes ‘Who is your client?’ guide for in-house lawyers

New guidelines to help in-house solicitors who face pressure to give advice to someone other than their direct employer have been published by the Law Society of Scotland.

The guide, entitled “Who is your client?” follows feedback from the profession and builds on the Law Society’s existing Guide for in-house lawyers. A survey of in-house lawyers found that they often come under pressure to give advice to someone who is not their direct employer, for instance, other colleagues, associated bodies, directors and even members of the public.

In the guide, the Society recognises that there is a group of bodies and people between the two extremes of employer and unrelated third parties / the general public to whom in-house solicitors may wish to give advice. They state that this middle ground is where giving advice may still be possible, depending on:

  • the proximity of the “middle ground client” and their interests to the employer and to the employer’s interests (ie there must be a common objective between the “middle ground client” and the employer);
  • Whether the solicitor is able to act without compromising their obligations under the practice rules; and
  • Whether the “middle ground client” has important protections like legal privilege and professional indemnity insurance.

The guidelines, which were prepared with a focus group of in-house solicitors from the public, private and third sectors, are not prescriptive, providing a series of case studies and practical tips on how to deal with potentially tricky employer-client relationships.

The new guide can be found on the Law Society of Scotland website at

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