We all know that in house counsel positions generally offer a better lifestyle option than law firms.
But besides having better hours, avoiding the pressure to bill, and not having the need to rain-make, Matt Herrmann at Above the Law provides reason number 1,000 (or was it reason number 1,000,000) as to why in house counsel positions are better -- law firms are unnaturally meaner.
No big shocker. But perhaps no one has ever put it down to pen and paper. Life as a lawyer at a law firm can be brutal simply because law firms have a culture of being mean.
In the Above the Law Article, Herrmann provides some examples of law firms being meaner. First, is the terminology used to describe certain employees. For example, someone who facilitates a conversation at a question and answer session may be described as a "discussion leader" at a company. Whereas, a similar employee at a firm would be described as a "stooge." See where we're going?
Similarly, Herrmann discusses the lack of empathy and second chances at a firm. Perform shoddy work for a partner? You can forget about getting a second assignment.
Perform shoddy work at a company? Prepare for meetings and active encouragement to get your work up to par.
Herrmann suggests that this labeling of associates at firms and lack of empathy is perhaps due to the up-or-out culture at law firms. Basically, if you can't survive the rigors of the work, you're forced to shape up on your own or be forced out at a firm. On the other hand, there is not this same type of pressure as in house counsel.
So why do lawyers put up with the denigration and pressure to perform in the law firm environment? Money and lack of in house positions may be good starting points.