What to expect when moving in-house

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Law firms may be an obvious magnet for job-seeking attorneys, but more and more often, lawyers are seeking in-house corporate counsel positions, especially in tech and industry hubs like New York and San Francisco.

'We expect hiring for in-house lawyers to pick up considerably in 2015 as the economy climbs and compliance laws become increasingly strict.' - Niki Zotou, Manager, Legal.

 

Here are some realistic expectations to consider before accepting an in-house corporate counsel position:

More reasonable hours… maybe

The hours might be shorter than in a law firm. But don’t count on it, especially if you’re going to work for a hot start-up or tech company. A more predictable schedule is sometimes a perk of in-house work, but isn’t always a guarantee and shouldn’t be your number one motivating factor.

However, without the conflicting clients, deadlines, and priorities you might juggle at a law firm, in-house work can sometimes seem more structured and relaxed. Of course, there are always several priorities vying for your attention and time. But not having to log timesheets and create billing paperwork can help shave time off your daily schedule as well.

Better money… perhaps

Although some in-house counsel positions are well-paid right off the bat, you won’t necessarily make loads more money than you would at a law firm. An in-house counsel is often considered a cost center, rather than a revenue generator. This can create a bit of pressure and can sometimes amount to additional responsibilities as the company tries to get its money’s worth out of you.

Of course, joining a startup pre-IPO can obviously be a great way to garner stock options—an income perk. And progressive companies in San Francisco and New York tend to come with great benefits.

Work solo, make an impact

The best candidates for in-house counsel positions are those who are self-motivated and have an active interest in the business outside of just legal details. Most in-house attorneys are a part of a collaborative inner circle working toward a unified goal. 

Being self-motivated is a key personality trait required of successful in-house counsel candidates. Working directly for one company provides less legal learning opportunities than a law firm, where more experienced attorneys are mentors. It can be challenging to keep up with changing laws and to solve problems on your own, so having the initiative, and the resources, to seek out solutions is crucial.

In addition, if you’re used to working at a law firm, taking a position in-house usually means saying goodbye to the support system you’ve been accustomed to - secretaries and paralegals. There’s more of a D.I.Y. mentality when working inside a company.

No more business development

Probably the biggest advantage to working in-house, according to Niki Zotou, Manager of our Legal Division, “is the opportunity to concentrate on the practice of law” without the challenges of constantly looking for clients. Great attorneys are not always great salespeople, and finding and retaining clients is a key component of being a successful lawyer within a firm. Working in-house relieves the pressures of business development and frees up more time to devote to the legal matters of the company.

We expect hiring for in-house lawyers to pick up considerably in 2015 as the economy climbs and compliance laws become increasingly strict.

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For more information, please contact:
Niki Zotou, Manager - Legal
212.704.9900
niki.zotou@robertwalters.com 

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