waytoplant wrote:This may be a stupid (and off-topic) question but why are in-house hours better than biglaw hours? What is the reason for the difference?
Is there just a lower volume of work to be done each day in-house and, if so, why? Are there fewer short deadlines/fire drills so people are able to spread their work over longer periods? Are you able to send out work to outside counsel which frees you up? Are the tasks easier than biglaw assignments so they can get done more quickly with complicated/hard/labor intensive work going to outside counsel? Is there an understanding/expectation that people only work 9-6 (and are paid commensurately...) so they aren't assigned enough work to make them stay later than that? I understand daily/weekly hours vary as projects ebb and flow but I'm just wondering why people think the hours are better.
I'm a 5th year corporate associate at a v30 in NYC contemplating going in-house. Like many people here, I'm sure, I have vaguely workaholic tendencies so if I do go in-house and someone asks me to do something or there is work to be done I would probably feel compelled to volunteer and work late, which would defeat my most important goal for going in-house, which is to have better hours. But depending on the reason for why the hours are better it might not be an issue.
A few interrelated reasons:
1) Since you aren't being paid by the hour, you can actually benefit from efficiency.
2) There's a lot of work that can be done "good enough" that you wouldn't be able to send to a client. For example, if an internal corporate memo that is only being sent to file has a typo, it's really not the end of the world- but it would be a big deal for a biglaw firm to send out a memo to a client with a typo. Which is not to say you can or should be sloppy, but you don't need 3 people reading every item of work product.
3) Further to the "3 people reading" point- attorneys tend to be assigned to their own specific areas without a ton of oversight. You don't need to send out ever single piece of work product to someone else to review, comment, etc. Conversely, you don't need to be reviewing every item of work product junior people are doing.
4) It's usually a lot easier to anticipate workload, so you can affirmatively manage your schedule. Surprises happen, but you know your business and what kinds of things are likely to pop up. In biglaw, any sort of client could call at any time and make you drop everything.
5) You don't need to scrounge for more work when times are slow. If things are slow, they are slow- and you can just enjoy it for what it is. That also helps when things are busy, because you don't have a lot of small projects you took on during slow times dragging into the busy times.
6) Fewer administrative obligations. No time keeping, no business development, very little recruiting.
7) You can usually send true firedrills to outside counsel.
Notwithstanding the above, there are some corporate departments or specialties that can be hours intensive. Some companies are known to have harder-charging cultures that may demand lots of facetime or adopt biglaw-like review processes for work product. Also, in-house M&A attorneys can work crazy hours when a big deal comes up- especially if the deal is being done with minimal outside counsel support (as is increasingly common these days).