So You Want to Be an In-house Lawyer?

From the Experts

, Corporate Counsel


Constructing a law school course to introduce students to the in-house world.

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What's being said

  • Old Fart

    I think the previous commenters all have valid points, to a degree.

    @Inhouse Schlub, the world of in-house legal work has changed over the years. What once may have been an opportunity to trade the income upside of a 60 hour per week law firm job for a better work-life balance has now largely become the replacement of ridiculous time-keeping obligations in a firm with long and often thankless work by internal clients who fail to appreciate that you have their interest in mind when you "stand in the way of the business" by trying to make sure everything is buttoned up properly.

    @BeenThere, I haven‘t experienced this love for young lawyers. Most companies I have worked for would never hire a young (as in 0-3 year) lawyer, and I myself would be reluctant to do so. The world of in-house practice is quite different than law firm life, but one of the main differences is the near total absence of administrative support and mentoring. When a company has the budget to fill a position, they likely need someone to come in and hit the ground running rather than a young person who needs to be guided.

    @LawProf, I don‘t think the issue is a lack of interest or appreciation in "diversity" as much as it is the concern that some of the challenges of working in-house (the lack of resources, etc) may be more difficult for someone who hasn‘t dealt with them before, or the idea that a lifelong law firm attorney may not have the requisite skill in cutting to the chase to get a deal done as opposed to fighting over virtually every issue and non-issue.

  • Inhouse Schlub

    I think some of the comments are jaded. Working in house could be good, or bad, depending on who you are working for. The general consensus is that in-house people want a 9-5 job and relegate the tough stuff to outside counsel. In reality, the inside lawyer has to be both a lawyer and a business person (a/k/a baby sitter) for the "client" who wants to run amok without proper guidance from the inhouse lawyer. Then if there is litigation, it‘s time to call in the outside counsel. There really is no panacea in house (or outhouse). It all depends on who you are working for and what their expectations are of you. In any event, you will not make the same amount of money you can make outside, but you don‘t have to brown nose multiple demanding clients. Your single in-house client is the only one you have to please.

  • Been There Done That

    Corporations want young lawyers so they can work them to the bone, pay them little and not promote them - while the newly minted lawyer (if they are decent) happily thinks they will have a chance to succeed by hard work. After being in-house for a few years, unless you fit a minority need they have you‘ll be out by age 40. Otherwise, it‘s high school where hard work is not rewarded but cronyism and brown nosing are the keys to success.

  • Law Professor

    Trying to become an in-house counsel after more than 15 years in private practice is next to impossible. Despite a truly admirable resume and work experience involved in many important matters along with serving as a senior federal official requiring Senate confirmation, it was impossible to get "in". What should be viewed as useful to the c-suite is having an "outsider" included on the in-house team to insure a broadbanded thinking team. But...all too often someone in the GC‘s office is opposed to intellectual diversity.

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