3 Common Misconceptions About Going In-House

, Corporate Counsel


For lawyers considering a transition from law firm to law department, there are a few myths worth dispelling first.

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What's being said

  • K.Jayachandran.advocate, India

    After you kick the tires you might realise this is not the ride want to take A great sentence. One has to read this sentence number of times before taking a decision

  • Brent

    Yikes. I agree with the other posters. I spent 8 years in 2 big law firms and 9 years working in-house. The hours are better, but you don‘t always have a safety net like at firms so sometimes you‘re on the hook to do the work no matter what else is going on. I don‘t think I‘ve met a single lawyer who‘s done both who hasn‘t enjoyed the in-house work/life balance better. If you can identify and solve problems and add value, you‘ll be a part of the team and be valued. The company culture is also important. If you‘re viewed as an obstacle (maybe due to the methods of in-house lawyers before you) you‘ll need to work to change the perception and practice. Seems like this book is titled "Life After Law" for a reason. It‘s not for people trying to make a legal career work. It‘s for those who regret taking the legal career path period.

  • Ken Woodier

    Apologies to Liz but I believe she gives completely the wrong impression of being inhouse. It is a very negative depiction. After 30 plus years experience inhouse myself I believe I am better placed to comment and it does not reflect any of my inhouse roles (6 in total) apart from not expecting to work long hours which is clearly a myth for many inhouse lawyers. This is always a common misconception of those in practice but I think it is often a way of trying to give the impession that being inhouse is a less demanding branch of the profession - often it is not!

  • Mikio Ishimaru

    I‘ve been inhouse counsel to four companies over 22 years. Addressing the points in reverse order. First, you become part of a team by figuring out how to do things rather than why they can‘t be done. Second, once you become the problem solver, you will be the last to be let go. Third, it‘s fun to be solving problems and as you get better the hours get shorter.

  • Ray

    1) The "billable" hours are about the same. However, everything is billable inside. There is no need to do the hours of client development. Inside attorneys do have more free time. "Real" vacations are allowed by inside lawyers.2) If an outside attorney has a large number of dependable clients, then he is more stable, job-wise, than an inside attorney. But, if the outside attorney works primarily for one single client, then her job is no more or less secure than an inside attorney.3) Is completely wrong--the goal of an attorney is to be part of the team. But, you have to work at it. When an inside legal team is working well with management, it is magic. Tremendous value for the corporation can be created.

  • Steven Sandler

    These are good insights which all make sense. However, my experience was different. I closed a solo practice and went in-house with my best client. I had the added perk of not having to run a business anymore, leaving that to my client who is well-suited to the task, and leaving the legal work - and JUST the legal work - to me. I have never been happier in my career. I created the legal department for this closely held, growing company. My presence has added value to the company both by the prestige of being one of the first transportation companies of this size to have a legal department, as well as the work I‘ve done to advance the company‘s interests.

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