In the video titled “How To Be a Successful In-house Lawyer, the Thomson Reuters practical webcast conducted by Adrian Pashley interviews Darren Heath to talk about his role as a solicitor and legal adviser at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) charity. Darren starts by highlighting how he ended up focusing on charity work. His journey began with training with Lovells where he qualified as a commercial property lawyer and practiced for three years. Thereafter, he changed to Intellectual Property and Media law where he practiced for an additional three years until he realized that he had spent enough time as an appellate attorney and that his interests were in the film. So, he went to the West End where he decided to focus on writing and presenting.
This change in his career, saw Darren setting up his production company that focuses on training films and fictional dramas. All of this was achieved within two years.
While he was busy getting his production company up and running, he was appointed as one of the first Lawyers on Demand or commonly known as LODs and he had to juggle this position three times a week. His career as a LOD began at Orange, then he moved on to the FT, and his recent before joining the RIBA was with the ACT which is a nonprofit membership organization. After being in practice and moving to be in film production, Darren can talk about the differences between the two and the one distinction is that while practicing as an attorney he was mainly frustrated by several things while his work with charities has given him a wider perspective on how to deal with different situations because the functionality of it is public based.
Darren still uses his knowledge of property law as the main resource for the work that he does that involves external lawyers. He prides himself in being knowledgeable about the legal profession and has high expectations for the external lawyers that he works with because he believes that legal documents ought to be precise and with little to no errors. This is why he stays up to date with developments such as the use of social media that allows for the public to have access to real-time events and judgments that are consistently published on platforms such as Twitter.
The challenges that Darren highlights as being prevalent in his work with nonprofit organizations are regulations and bylaws as well as being highly observant of what happens within the organization. Apart from the challenges, there are many benefits particularly the kind of people that he gets to work with who are exceptional and appreciative of his skills as a lawyer and the environment is far more positive than what he expected it to be.