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  • Writer's pictureThe Legal Digest

Role of an In-House Lawyer: Publishing

Updated: May 15, 2022

Are you interested in working as a lawyer in the publishing sector? If so, then I give you first-hand insight into what a lawyer does for a publishing company.

Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

If you have been thinking that publishing is a sector that interests you, but you are not really sure what a lawyer does for a publishing company. The important thing to remember is that being an in-house lawyer means you can chop and change into different sectors bringing your transferable skills with you so that you find an area that you find interesting and fulfilling.

This is my second role as a freelance in-house lawyer and I am nearly 2 months into the role. I thought going into a different sector would leave me feeling that I have a lot to get up to speed on. Different co-workers, risk appetite, ethos and focus which means I have to really adapt quickly so that I am able to perform to the best of my ability and leave a lasting impression.

I always go into a role giving 100% and once again I am reminded that when it comes to in-house legal departments the challenges you face are very similar because business face similar problems. I didn't have prior knowledge of the publishing world before starting this role but that wasn't important. Thankfully everyone in my team is understanding and on hand to answer any questions.

Way of Working

I work completely remotely in this role however 20% of the workforce has opted to work on a hybrid basis. There is a real mix of in-person and virtual meetings and events which run concurrently which takes a bit of time to get used to however, the way I see it is that companies have found a way to make things work so that their workers can have the flexibility they need.

Type of Work

Commercial contracts - as well as contracts for the purchase of services ranging from anything such as software to event agreements. Distribution and agency agreements are quite common because the business will appoint a distributor or agent to sell their products or content on to other organisations. Understanding competition law helps to draft and negotiate these type of agreements.

Data protection - this affects every aspect of the business, when buying services from a supplier or when individuals access the website to log in to their profile and access material or potential authors who submit personal data to the business.

Intellectual Property - protecting the content produced by writers in the business and also negotiating terms with authors over the IP in their work.

Litigation - disputes with suppliers over a failure or non-performance of a contract and protecting the company's brand from being used by other organisations.

The big difference in this role is that the business take a more commercial and pragmatic approach to their decision making. This is largely to do with the fact that it is not regulated when compared with for example, the financial services industry.

Working in publishing is a fascinating area, as with any role it is a huge learning curve when you first start, and really, the learning never stops. If you are commercially driven, methodical, creative, open-minded, confident in being able to take ownership of your work and ask the right questions, perhaps a career as a literary lawyer is for you.


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