Before Going In-House…
As an attorney, the range of jobs you can choose from varies depending on what you are looking for when it comes to legal work. Some people work in public defense, politics, litigation, or academia. Many people aim to work in-house since working in a private law firm or government position is not for everyone. When working in-house, you can sometimes have one client to focus on, or you can work in a range of different practice areas. There is a lot of versatility. If you are planning to go in-house, here are some things to keep in mind:
Look at size. Large companies will usually have an in-house attorney team comprising of two or more attorneys to help with their legal matters. Smaller companies might have only one attorney making up their “general counsel”. This attorney may also have more responsibilities and have to provide legal assistance over a range of practice areas. Look into what size company you would like to work for and determine the type of workload that is best for your career needs.
Understand the job. Working for a company regardless of size will require its in-house counsel to help them in a number of legal issues. For example, it would be helpful for an attorney working in a fashion industry company to understand fashion law, employment, and corporate law, since matters may arise in any of these areas. It’s important to research the position you are aiming to get, and see what skills you will need to excel.
Hours of operation. People tend to go for in-house positions if they have a family because the hours are more “regular” compared to those who work in a law firm. In-house attorneys have more control over their schedules. However, the amount of hours in-house attorneys work does not correlate to the quantity of work they receive. Some in-house positions require the same amount, if not more, work than law firms. In order to cut costs, some companies have started to demand more work from their counsels & not seeking legal advice from outside firms.
Business minded. Working as an in-house counsel is great for attorneys who appreciate and enjoy the business aspect of law. Working in an in-house position means you will be interacting and dealing with more business and corporate issues and people, such as CEO’s, COO’s, Presidents, etc. It’s a good opportunity to have more of an understanding on how businesses are run and operate on a day to day basis.
Becoming an in-house attorney gives you the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of issues and legal matters outside of a law firm. Some people flourish within a corporate or business setting, while others enjoy working within a law firm. Before going in-house, make sure you do your research, or speak to your legal recruiter to learn more about the position. The most important thing is to make sure you are on the right career path and you are happy with your work.