Has the idea of shifting career direction and working in-house crossed your mind?
Does it sound like an attractive and inspiring opportunity to minimise long work hours and escape some of the challenges of private practice?
Consider these tips to help you in your decision.
What Are The Positives?
Your objectives, when working in-house, are to proactively engage the commercial workforce, manage activity to reduce external spend, minimise risk and meet industry compliance.
The positive aspects of working in-house can include:
- More regular working hours, meaning it’s a likely you’ll enjoy a better work/life balance and a more consistent workload
- No timesheets or billings
- The opportunity to become integrally involved in the running of the business in-house
The potential to move into the commercial areas of the business by internal transfer.
What Are The Challenges?
- Often, the move in-house can involve a pay cut
- As companies are now outsourcing less, they are demanding more from their own in-house lawyers, meaning you might inadvertently sign up for a heftier workload than you hoped, rather than a reduction in hours
- You may need to work hard to win over internal clients, as some may be used to doing all the work themselves, with the autonomy and credit that entails
You may need to move companies more often if you’re genuinely keen to progress in seniority, responsibility and salary in an in-house career, as small teams could limit your career path and in-house work typically involves smaller increases in salary.
What Else Should I Keep In Mind?
It’s important to thoroughly research a company before you make a move in-house, as it’s uncommon for a legal professional to return to private practice once they’ve made the move.
Moving in-house too early in your career could potentially limit your development opportunities and the chance to expand and sharpen your professional skills, as in-house and private career paths are so different.
Be aware that, although roles in private practice are specialised, an in-house lawyer will typically need to have wide-reaching knowledge and responsibility that covers a whole range of areas like employment, property, commercial and corporate law.
It’s worthwhile to speak to mentors or experienced professionals on each side of the divide to understand the real implications, opportunities, downsides and remarkable benefits of a career shift.