Should I Go In-House

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Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:46 am

First year at a V50 corporate practice. Don't mind the substance of the work but already absolutely hate the unpredictability and fire drills. It only seems to get worse with experience and I'm dreading moving up a class year.

Have an offer to move in-house to a compliance shop in a secondary market handling privacy/cyber security issues. Seems like the run-of-the-mill work for this company is helping outside clients with audits and compliance issues. I'm getting a legal title, but this job sounds like it will be a legal/consulting hybrid job at best, and I'm not sure whether I'm shooting myself in the foot for long-term options.

Pay is $105k, with small 401k matching, no lock-step increases, but it seems to have the potential to go up, though not to big law levels of pay. Hours are 9-5. (Edit: I should mention that this is in a state with no state tax (not TX) and I'm coming from NYC, so the take-home pay difference comes out to around $30 k post tax). (Further edit: this position has the potential to go to $120,000, with the next level up topping out at $160k. I'd probably have to go somewhere else to go higher than that.)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:13 pm

Its a tough call. On one hand, you are only a first year. I would recommend getting at least 2 years before going in-house. I did corporate for 2 years then moved inhouse where I worked on privacy for another 2 years and went back to a big firm.

With that said, the field you are entering privacy/cybersecurity is one of the hottest fields in law. The pay is a little low at 105, but if it is in a secondary city, it isn't too bad. Your job will give you opportunities in consulting as well as law. With how hot the privacy market is right now, I wouldn't be surprised if you find urself able to lateral to a biglaw firm or privacy counsel position in 2-3 years (especially if you have biglaw pedigree and grades).
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:14 pm

Only you can decide what to do. But I will say that it doesn't get any better at a firm. Sure, you start to understand the job more and you can push back more, but if anything the stress rises as you become the go-to for clients and partners. I worked a lot as a first year but was never that stressed out. As a fourth year, I am stressed even when I'm not busy since at any moment my entire month can be ruined by an email from a partner.

Probably better to get out and save your sanity. I did the opposite path as you, went from compliance/consulting making $110,000 to big law and while paying off the debt has been great, I regret the move. My soft skills have declined noticeably and my physical and mental health have taken a toll. It is impossible to get into a life rhythm because even if you make a schedule, it will definitely go to shit once you start working until midnight or later for weeks on end, and then the cycle starts all over.

Privacy and cyber security is a blossoming field and so getting in now will be a good move, even if the pay is a big decrease at the moment. While you may miss out on big pay now, you'll likely out earn many big law attorneys that stay for 3-4 years and quit to go in-house or to smaller firms. I would take the offer and get out while you can.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby 2014 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:29 pm

By leaving now you are likely locking yourself into a lower paid career path and as a practical matter you are probably going to end up as a compliance specialist (i.e. basically closing the door on doing deal work or more generalist in-house jobs) but that's a choice that a lot of people are comfortable making. You may also be responsible for more self-training than at a law firm where the incentives are there to help you learn.

If you think you could enjoy/tolerate the work and the salary is sufficient then there are worse ideas than fast forwarding to the 9-5 M-F outcome. That same role also exists at most companies so switching jobs is feasible and if you interview well who's to say you couldn't expand your practice to more than compliance in the future if you wanted to do so. Tons of job postings list law firm and in-house experience as fungible, just depends what you learn and how you sell it.

It should also be mentioned that this is as good of an outcome as you can reasonably expect until you are a 4th (or maybe 3rd year) so turning it down shouldn't be taken lightly - you are basically signing up for 2 more years.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:38 pm

Thanks for the advice! To keep the complaining about biglaw short, I'll just say that I'm already at that level of stress you mentioned. In retrospect my weekends haven't all been ruined, but it really just takes a few weekends completely ruined by that Saturday afternoon email to put somebody in a constant low level of paranoia. Out of curiosity, is your practice group transactional/deal-oriented (i.e. cap markets, finance, M&A, etc.)? Good to know that it doesn't get better, even thought that's definitely my impression as well.

Long-term options are my bigger concern. This is a compliance consulting shop that's interested in bringing lawyers on board, and who will pay my bar fees and CLEs. I'm concerned that while I can move to consulting and gain expertise in privacy/security issues, the lack of hard legal work will limit my ability to move to other companies and I'll lose out to people jumping ship from biglaw.

That said, my other concern is that nobody at my firm/practice group (general corporate) seems to go in-house before year 5 at best and the thought of being in this rat race for 5 years actually makes me feel some form of situational despair/depression.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Its a tough call. On one hand, you are only a first year. I would recommend getting at least 2 years before going in-house. I did corporate for 2 years then moved inhouse where I worked on privacy for another 2 years and went back to a big firm.

With that said, the field you are entering privacy/cybersecurity is one of the hottest fields in law. The pay is a little low at 105, but if it is in a secondary city, it isn't too bad. Your job will give you opportunities in consulting as well as law. With how hot the privacy market is right now, I wouldn't be surprised if you find urself able to lateral to a biglaw firm or privacy counsel position in 2-3 years (especially if you have biglaw pedigree and grades).


Could you elaborate a little on this? Not the OP, but I'm a third year securities guy considering an in-house opportunity and kind of wondering whether that totally forecloses my return to big law (which might not be the worst thing).

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby beautyistruth » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Probably better to get out and save your sanity. I did the opposite path as you, went from compliance/consulting making $110,000 to big law and while paying off the debt has been great, I regret the move. My soft skills have declined noticeably and my physical and mental health have taken a toll. It is impossible to get into a life rhythm because even if you make a schedule, it will definitely go to shit once you start working until midnight or later for weeks on end, and then the cycle starts all over.


To clarify, did you do compliance/consulting, go to law school, then go to biglaw, or did you go to law school, compliance/consulting, then biglaw? Thanks!

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby didntretake » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:13 pm

I am also a biglaw corporate first year and would take this in a heartbeat. OP - I would love to know how you got this offer.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:20 pm

beautyistruth wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Probably better to get out and save your sanity. I did the opposite path as you, went from compliance/consulting making $110,000 to big law and while paying off the debt has been great, I regret the move. My soft skills have declined noticeably and my physical and mental health have taken a toll. It is impossible to get into a life rhythm because even if you make a schedule, it will definitely go to shit once you start working until midnight or later for weeks on end, and then the cycle starts all over.


To clarify, did you do compliance/consulting, go to law school, then go to biglaw, or did you go to law school, compliance/consulting, then biglaw? Thanks!


I did consulting/compliance after law school for a year and a half and then started in big law.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:24 pm

didntretake wrote:I am also a biglaw corporate first year and would take this in a heartbeat. OP - I would love to know how you got this offer.


Very good friend who talked me up to the company after seeing how unhappy I was in biglaw. Who also, no joke, enjoys scotch and wears suits. When in doubt, be Marshall Ericksen.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the advice! To keep the complaining about biglaw short, I'll just say that I'm already at that level of stress you mentioned. In retrospect my weekends haven't all been ruined, but it really just takes a few weekends completely ruined by that Saturday afternoon email to put somebody in a constant low level of paranoia. Out of curiosity, is your practice group transactional/deal-oriented (i.e. cap markets, finance, M&A, etc.)? Good to know that it doesn't get better, even thought that's definitely my impression as well.

Long-term options are really my bigger concern. This is a compliance consulting shop that's interested in bringing lawyers on board, and who will pay my bar fees and CLEs. I'm concerned that while I can move to consulting and gain expertise in privacy/security issues, the lack of hard legal work is to limit my ability to move to other companies and I'll lose out to people jumping ship from biglaw.

That said, my other concern is that nobody at my firm/practice group (general corporate) seems to go in-house before year 5 at best and the thought of being in this rat race for 5 years actually makes me feel some form of situational despair/depression.


I work in a transactional practice that mostly deals with debt financing for M&A transactions. It's sort of exactly how you describe, a low level of uneasiness even in slow times and full-on anxiety when busy. I've had partners email me at 9 pm on Thursday night to help with a closing on Monday (basically weekend ruined for a deal I did nothing for). At the same time, I've had it pretty good compared to others in my group, but even seeing a co-worker get slammed on a Friday and work all weekend is unnerving, because it can always happen to you. The job just isn't for everyone.

If you don't want to do privacy or security work, then that is a different issue. You will probably never be able to go be a general corporate in house counsel if you leave big law (though I'm sure some companies would be interested since you'll have in-house experience and you can always spin on resumes). But if you want to stay in security/privacy, then I would think you will be just as competitive as any big law attorney, since you'll have the relevant experience from a legal, compliance and business standpoint. I wouldn't worry about long term options in the field, there will always be someone better or more qualified, but in my experience hiring is largely based on fit once you have certain qualifications. Sure, there may be employers that want big firm attorney's only, but you'll have a skill set that others don't from the consulting side and you won't be a burnt out, miserable big law attorney in the interview.

That is just my two cents on the matter. At the end, its a hard job to leave. Hell, I've left and come back to a firm because the place I exited too was actually worse than a firm. But if you find a good place to be, with good people, good hours and work that is fairly interesting, I would think long and hard about taking it because you may not find another position like that for a few years. Also, be warned, getting in-house offers is not easy. Usually you get recruited starting around year 3/4 and it can take a very long time to find positions that are interesting, pay well and have decent lifestyle. I've been searching to get out for about 5 months now and its pretty hard finding good places to interview with.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:16 pm

OP here, thanks for all the advice! Reaction to this position much more positive than I expected!

Literally went and pulled a LinkedIn write-up of the consulting position. If, worst-case scenario, they don't give me any legal work and I'm a "counsel" in name only, and I do the below listed, what does this do to my long-term career growth?

Provide Cloud Compliance support and Advisory services to management of a Fortune 50 Cloud Service Provider amid the following audits:
➜ FedRAMP
➜ SOC 2 Type 2
➜ PCI DSS

Building data visualization reports, using Power BI, presented at the GM level.

Articulating technical and compliance knowledge in response to various RFPs on behalf of a Fortune 50 CSP.

Understanding and documenting company's internal processes to evidence the achievement of a Capability Maturity Model Integration Level 3.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby se7en » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:46 pm

Is it generally possible to negotiate the salary? As I understand, inhouse positions are generally not the same lock-step as law salaries. If you get an offer, can you reply "I would accept if 130k"?

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:59 pm

OP here - I got the offer and this is as high as I could push the salary. They said that the typical salary for this position was $60-$120 and I couldn't get them to go higher than $105. Honestly the salary is a huge blocking factor for me.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby lolwat » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:29 pm

I have no idea about long term career growth.
I will offer my opinion that the only thing that gets better in biglaw is the money, so if you value having good hours and free time over money, it sounds like you could do a lot worse than the offer you have.
Also, I'm sure I'm missing a few in my mind, but thinking about the states with no state tax, you're coming from NYC so it's not only state tax you're saving on, it's all the other costs of living, too. So, you're making $105k instead of $180k but you'll be in, what, Florida, Texas, Washington, Nevada? $105k likely goes farther (or at least just as far) in any of those states than $180k in NYC.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here - I got the offer and this is as high as I could push the salary. They said that the typical salary for this position was $60-$120 and I couldn't get them to go higher than $105. Honestly the salary is a huge blocking factor for me.


Thanks for the reply - just curious, why are you stuck at 105 vs the 120, if they do pay up to 120?

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Yugihoe » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here - I got the offer and this is as high as I could push the salary. They said that the typical salary for this position was $60-$120 and I couldn't get them to go higher than $105. Honestly the salary is a huge blocking factor for me.


Thanks for the reply - just curious, why are you stuck at 105 vs the 120, if they do pay up to 120?


Probably doesn't have the requisite experience being just a first year lateral, I assume the 120k, or top of the range, is for someone more experienced/desirable.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:37 pm

OP here and that's the reason. I have none of the requisite technical knowledge/background and will need to be trained.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:45 pm

I haven't heard a good reason yet not to take this opportunity

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:51 pm

OP here: General anxiety over how my resume will play out in the future if I want to leave (JD, 1 year biglaw corporate experience, 3 years consulting/compliance experience under the umbrella of a legal title) and what types of jobs I'd be looking at. (I just got off the phone with one of the directors and it sort of confirmed that there are no plans to use me in a different capacity than the other consultants, at this point at least).

Also just because I'm predisposed to being anxious about the future.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:33 pm

I mean, to me, you go here planning for it to be your last stop unless it's simply an awful environment. That's always a risk you take though--youd be taking that risk if you waited two more years and went to an equivalent position. I hear the concern that "well, but in the latter case I'd have a stronger resume for going elsewhere"--but if you hate biglaw enough now then I don't think that should stop you

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby nealric » Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:59 pm

I know someone who is trying to get out of a role like this and back to biglaw. My impression is that it's sort of a career dead-end. I think you'd have much more interesting opportunities if you can stick it out a few more years in biglaw.

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Re: Should I Go In-House

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here, thanks for all the advice! Reaction to this position much more positive than I expected!

Literally went and pulled a LinkedIn write-up of the consulting position. If, worst-case scenario, they don't give me any legal work and I'm a "counsel" in name only, and I do the below listed, what does this do to my long-term career growth?

Provide Cloud Compliance support and Advisory services to management of a Fortune 50 Cloud Service Provider amid the following audits:
➜ FedRAMP
➜ SOC 2 Type 2
➜ PCI DSS

Building data visualization reports, using Power BI, presented at the GM level.

Articulating technical and compliance knowledge in response to various RFPs on behalf of a Fortune 50 CSP.

Understanding and documenting company's internal processes to evidence the achievement of a Capability Maturity Model Integration Level 3.


I am a midlevel biglaw privacy associate. Below are some of my observations:

First for the good news. Privacy is one of the hottest fields in law. There is pretty high demand both inhouse and at biglaw firms for people who are somewhat experienced. I've seen firms hire people who have no biglaw experience and only some inhouse experience in data privacy or even pseudo legal jobs. It also sounds like this job is more technical and will probably offer a lot of opportunities outside of law (in consulting). Technical data privacy and security consulting is more in demand than legal privacy and security.

The bad news is that the job does not seem to be very legal. I don't know if you will actually get legal training and be asked to interpret laws (i.e. GDPR, CASL, TCPA). While I have seen people go from pseudo-legal positions to Biglaw, they have all had a little more exposure to the interpretation of statutes and laws. If the market continues to be this hot (as I expect), I think you will have an OK but not great chance to go back to biglaw if you would like. I think the same could be said for privacy counsel positions. Privacy counsel positions like to hire from biglaw firms. Given the relatively few biglaw privacy associates, the pool is not very deep. They will also consider other inhouse privacy counsel or other counsel who handles privacy matters. It also helps if you have awesome biglaw pedigree and grades. While technical data privacy and security work is more in demand, the pay is often lower than biglaw or inhouse privacy counsel positions.



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