You've been billing eighty hours a week for eight years and partnership is still eluding you. You're constantly gearing up for trial -- only to have all your cases settle. You haven't had a weekend off with the family in 3 years.
The fix to these problems for many is to get an in-house job -- that elusive chalice that holds the magical balance of work and life. You seem to hear only wonderful things about the in-house holy grail, but we decided to dig a little deeper and find out what in-house lawyers really think. Based on our unscientific sampling, here are the top ten things lawyers wish they knew before they went in-house, starting with numbers 1 to 5.
And let's just say it's not all rainbows and unicorns ...
1. The Slippery Slope -- of Salary, That Is
When you make the transition to in-house counsel you'll take a bit of a pay cut, which probably won't bother you at first because the trade-off is a social life. But, as your peers at firms become partners, the financial gap widens and you may not be able to keep up with the Joneses, Esq.
2. A Twelve-Hour Day by Any Other Name Would Last As Long
You may have your weekends back, but on a weekday you can expect to still put in those long hours. You may not be billing, but being a lawyer, whether at a firm or in-house, is a demanding job and someone's gotta do it all. Right now.
3. The Devil Is in the Details
When you work at a firm, you see issues piecemeal, as in-house lawyers delegate them to you. As in-house counsel, you're dealing with the daily correspondence and internal decision-making politics of every minute detail This can add extra stress to an already stressful job.
4. The Customer Is Always Right
Firm attorneys often have the luxury of choosing their clients. If they don't like a client they can pawn them off on other associates. When you're in-house, the company you work for is your client. Period. Like them, or not, you're stuck with them.
5. Billable Hours v. Efficiency Metrics
Working in-house means you're not accountable to anyone for the amount of hours, right? Wrong. As more corporations are driven by efficiency metrics, more law departments are tracking their time to identify performance. Don't put away that time journal just yet.
Don't be dissuaded by this information, just use it to make an educated decision before making the big leap in-house. Stay tuned for part two of the top ten things lawyers wish they knew before they went in-house. Do you have suggestions or ideas for Part II? Tweet us and let us know @FindLawLP.
- 99 Things To Do With Your JD, Besides Practice Law (FindLaw's Greedy Associates blog)
- The "Dark Side" of Going In House (FindLaw's Legal Career Center)
- Can You Go In-House Straight out of Law School? (FindLaw's In-House blog)