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In House Lawyer Case Study – Vitality Life

Sally Burrowes - In House Lawyer
Sally Burrowes

Wondering what it’s like to work as an in house lawyer?

We speak to Sally Burrowes, Director of Legal and Business Support at Vitality Life, about her legal career, the challenges of her job and her typical day to day tasks at Vitality. Sally also gives her advice for other aspiring in house lawyers.


Where did you begin your legal career? 

I completed my training contract at Hogan Lovells (then just Lovells) and completed seats in financial services dispute resolution, Intellectual Property, financial services regulation and a client secondment to PruHealth (now VitalityHealth).

What made you decide to work as an in house lawyer? 

I wanted to be able to provide advice on a broad range of topics rather than specialising in a narrow area. I was also attracted to working with a mix of other professions including Sales, Actuarial, Compliance and Marketing, rather than just other lawyers. Lastly, I preferred the combination of intense pace during the day but more regular working hours.

So why Vitality?

I was seconded to Vitality from private practice as it was a client. It was a young ambitious start up company with strong backing from its parent companies at the time, Discovery and Prudential, which was a great combination. The sense of building something from the ground up and being able to make a tangible difference to the company, as well as the camaraderie in the team was very appealing. There is a strong element of social good underpinning the Vitality insurance model too which is still important to me.

How does your typical day as an in house lawyer look? 

I arrive at the office at 8:45am. Most days rush by in a bit of blur of activity with six or so meetings ranging from our fortnightly Executive Committee, to weekly one to ones with my team, product development brainstorm sessions and sales meeting. I try to take an hour to go to the gym at lunchtime three times a week, which is encouraged, and fill the rest of the day with emails, calls and drafting. I leave work about 6:30 – 7pm and carry on my emails on the tube home.

What are the best bits about your job as an in house lawyer? 

Annual product launches are great; to see the culmination of six months work be announced on stage in front of advisers and to gauge their reaction is very satisfying. Hearing good news stories from policyholders who have discovered and prevented serious illnesses early due to having a policy that they would otherwise not have is always very fulfilling. Day to day though it’s spending time with my colleagues – they are all great fun and have a shared common drive, so there is a strong sense that we are all in it together.

What are the most challenging bits? 

Not being able to do more and quicker. Despite the pace at which we work and all that we take to market, we have so many other good ideas and initiatives we want to implement that we’re impatient to have to wait and prioritise some over others.

What are your top tips for anyone considering working as an in house lawyer? 

You hear a lot about when the right time to move in-house from private practice is. My view is if you want to make the move, just go. There is no substitute for learning the way the business works and building relationships with the different departments, no matter how many years PQE you are on paper, it’s all about relevant experience.

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