Many attorneys’ dream career path is to go into BigLaw, become a partner, and ultimately go in-house. Attorneys desire this choice of career path because it hits all of the pinnacles a lawyer can reach in their career. Throughout my career, I have noticed among attorneys that the most desirable of those career markers is going in-house. In-house careers have been coined with the promises of less hours, no billings, and an overall better work-life balance. However, the promises of a better work-life balance and no billings does not always happen with an in-house setting. Recently, I have seen a trend of attorneys leaving their in-house jobs to go back to law firms. This choice of a career path may be unfathomable to some, but I believe there are several reasons why an attorney would choose to return to the law firm lifestyle.
First, supply and demand are usually more consistent at a law firm rather than in-house. Most law firms have a high demand for lawyers and work, and there is not enough of a supply of lawyers from firms, so we have to dip into the in-house pool of candidates. They will offer off-track positions, such as staff attorney positions, that do not have the extra stress and pressures that come with being a partner. These off-track positions are usually to help with long-term projects and clients for teams that do not necessarily need another on-track associate, but they need an attorney to help with the demanding work.
Second, going in-house is not what some people expect. Most attorneys expect it to be a plushy lifestyle with manageable work because you are only working for one company. However, people may return to law firms because they miss the experience of working with multiple clients, as opposed to only one. It could potentially be boring to some, but stress relieving for others. Also, many in-house positions are now making attorneys keep track of their hours, contrary to popular belief. Therefore, there is no trade-off to going in-house in this scenario. Furthermore, in-house positions do not offer any more job security than law firms. When an attorney works for a company, they are taking a risk because that company could easily be acquired or bought. Consequently, the answer to job security does not lay solely in going in-house.
Lastly, attorneys tend to make more money working at a law firm than in-house. Law firms are constantly in competition with one another, but companies are not. Law firms are in more competition for talent and know that to find quality work, they have to pay for quality work. As a result, firms compete with one another on the attorney pay scale. Companies do not have that pressure because they rely on their reputation to find quality attorneys. In addition, most companies only hire attorneys who have been practicing for six or more years, so they do not have to worry about an attorney’s work experience and expertise at that point.
There are numerous pros about going in-house. However, it is important that people understand that there is no such thing as the perfect job. Every job, law firm or in-house, will have its faults. Attorneys need to do intense research on the company they are looking into going in-house with before leaving what they are accustomed to. In-house positions may be ideal for some, but it may be too much of a culture shock for others. It all depends on what you want out of your legal career and where you see yourself at the pinnacle of your career.
Raj M. Nichani, Esq. is the President of The RMN Agency, a full-service legal search company specializing in the permanent and temporary placement of legal attorneys with law firms and corporate legal departments. Raj and his team are dedicated to placing the highest quality candidates based on their own unique needs. The RMN Agency is based in Atlanta, GA with a dominant presence in all major cities in the United States. The legal recruiting company was recently named the “Best Legal Recruiting Agency” for the second year in a row by readers of The Daily Report. You can reach Raj at (678) 842-5855, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the website at www.thermnagency.com for updated job postings and further information on the recruiting process.