Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

(Discuss Advantages vs Disadvantages, Making the Switch From Private Practice to In-House, Compensation & Hours, Work-Life balance, In-House Reviews & Experiences)
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Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:05 pm

Considering taking a corp counsel role at tech company. P good pay/benefits and much better hours. Hopefully room for advancement since the company is growing.
Curious to hear what regrets people may have, and what I should consider before making the jump. Thanks!

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:31 am

maybe a breakdown of how your day to day has changed would be helpful, and what you prefer about each? would appreciate any insight before making a career-altering decision.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:31 am

No regrets. Was at a firm for 4 years and ready to get out.

Pros: no billables, great hours (9-5/6, no evenings/weekends), respected position within company (except by the select few who see Legal as a roadblock), interesting to learn the business from the inside, good comp if you can get to a top company. The good news is once you are in-house, it's easy to continue moving to other companies as an in-house lawyer.

Cons: you are a cost center, sometimes get silo'd in your specific area of practice, you may lose the depth of your practice as business concerns trump complex legal issues almost every time.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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blurbz

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by blurbz » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:35 am

Zero regrets, a few months in.

Far fewer hours, more regular schedule. I go to the gym now! I walk my dogs now! I eat dinner with my significant other now!

The only real downside is that my significant other has realized I have more time and has been giving me more chores to do around the house....

It's all good.

I also took a pay INCREASE (yes, those mythical things do exist, sometimes).

I went in house in a secondary/tertiary market after 5 years of transactional biglaw.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by totesTheGoat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:59 am

No regrets at all. Any issues I have with working in-house would be amplified 10x if I were in a law firm. Most of the issues I have are specific to the company that I'm at (no job is perfect), and aren't endemic to in-house as a whole.

We track our hours here. We just switched from a basic (and annoying) spreadsheet tool that allowed us to put hours into buckets to a more traditional law firm time tracker. I actually prefer this. If we're going to track time, I want to be able to gauge my own efficiency on a matter by matter basis. Since we're not worried about billables, it's a minor annoyance.

I think the biggest annoyance is that we're treated as a cost center, so everything that we do to make our jobs easier and more efficient is looked at quite skeptically. If we hired 3 secretaries, they would pay for their annual salary in a couple of months. The attorneys would get a substantial number of hours back by passing the basic clerical work to secretaries. However, there seems to be an order of magnitude more resistance to hiring a $35k secretary than hiring a $150k attorney.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:14 am

Does anyone regret moving who moved more on the junior side (i.e. as a second year or third year?)

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone regret moving who moved more on the junior side (i.e. as a second year or third year?)
Have never been in-house, but in-house folks have warned me that you're at your most marketable straight from a firm (due to training, etc.). By going in-house so early you are cutting into those training years and may make more overall if you stay for 4-5 years at a prestigious firm.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by totesTheGoat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone regret moving who moved more on the junior side (i.e. as a second year or third year?)
Have never been in-house, but in-house folks have warned me that you're at your most marketable straight from a firm (due to training, etc.). By going in-house so early you are cutting into those training years and may make more overall if you stay for 4-5 years at a prestigious firm.
I've seen it go both ways. It depends on the quality of the in-house experience. I've seen people with early in-house experience get jobs 2 or 3 years faster than the equivalent biglaw attorneys. The in-house experience, however, was with a large company.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:50 am

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone regret moving who moved more on the junior side (i.e. as a second year or third year?)
I went in-house as a 3rd year (so basically was at the firm for slightly less than 3 years). I was general corporate and feel that I have learned much more in the last 6 months in-house than I would have in 6 more months at a firm. I am in a general corporate role at the Company (public company), so still doing securities and M&A work. I think I have a better chance of landing a GC spot sooner having come in-house now as opposed to 3-4 years from now.

Also, no regrets whatsoever. Will miss the huge pay bumps, but the only benefit I see of the firm was bigger salary increases (my comp was basically the same as at the firm when I initially made the move). I get in between 8-8:30 and leave at 6 every day. Have not worked more than a hour on any given weekend since I started. Make sure you think you will get along/work well with the people at the Company, very important.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:30 pm

All helpful, thank you. It seems the situation is much better in the near-term, but what about long-term prospects? Would a corp counsel in a growing company under a single AGC have decent room for career growth? Or would that be almost a terminal position with a need to jump to another company for a promotion? Still on partner track here, which has a very clear progression over the next 30 years, while in-house seems daunting in how unpredictable my career would be over that time.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by sopranorleone » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone regret moving who moved more on the junior side (i.e. as a second year or third year?)
I went in-house as a 3rd year (so basically was at the firm for slightly less than 3 years). I was general corporate and feel that I have learned much more in the last 6 months in-house than I would have in 6 more months at a firm. I am in a general corporate role at the Company (public company), so still doing securities and M&A work. I think I have a better chance of landing a GC spot sooner having come in-house now as opposed to 3-4 years from now.

Also, no regrets whatsoever. Will miss the huge pay bumps, but the only benefit I see of the firm was bigger salary increases (my comp was basically the same as at the firm when I initially made the move). I get in between 8-8:30 and leave at 6 every day. Have not worked more than a hour on any given weekend since I started. Make sure you think you will get along/work well with the people at the Company, very important.
Completely agree with this. No regrets. I went in-house in the middle of my second year, and I've been there about 14 months now. I do a mix of corporate law and tech trans, and I negotiate all contracts a few of our business units enter into. I'm confident I've learned more in the past 14 months than I would have learned in 3 more years working at the V5 I left.

Caveat all the above with the fact that I always wanted to go in-house.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:28 pm

To the juniors who moved, how did you sell your experience at the firm? Did you move to a similar area as what you practiced at the firm? What do you think was challenging about the transition?

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:All helpful, thank you. It seems the situation is much better in the near-term, but what about long-term prospects? Would a corp counsel in a growing company under a single AGC have decent room for career growth? Or would that be almost a terminal position with a need to jump to another company for a promotion? Still on partner track here, which has a very clear progression over the next 30 years, while in-house seems daunting in how unpredictable my career would be over that time.
This really depends on size of the Company. If you are #3 in the legal department, part of it would be based on how old the GC and AGC are (or how likely they are to move). The path of least resistance would be for the GC to leave, AGC and you each move up into the roles. Alternatively, after a couple years you could look for an AGC spot elsewhere. Titles in-house matter a lot. When I left, I would not have been willing to make the move without the AGC title. Now that I have it, the next step is either AGC at a larger company or GC at my (or another) Company if it becomes available.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:30 pm

double post.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:To the juniors who moved, how did you sell your experience at the firm? Did you move to a similar area as what you practiced at the firm? What do you think was challenging about the transition?
I was "poached" by a client I had done a large amount of work for. I moved to a similar practice area (general corporate to AGC so I oversee everything basically). I think the hard part of the transition is the unknown. You will learn many things you had not worked on before being in-house depending on your role. But being at a firm would not have better prepared me for most of the items that presented a learning curve (dealing with litigation oversight, employment issues, etc.)

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:All helpful, thank you. It seems the situation is much better in the near-term, but what about long-term prospects? Would a corp counsel in a growing company under a single AGC have decent room for career growth? Or would that be almost a terminal position with a need to jump to another company for a promotion? Still on partner track here, which has a very clear progression over the next 30 years, while in-house seems daunting in how unpredictable my career would be over that time.
This really depends on size of the Company. If you are #3 in the legal department, part of it would be based on how old the GC and AGC are (or how likely they are to move). The path of least resistance would be for the GC to leave, AGC and you each move up into the roles. Alternatively, after a couple years you could look for an AGC spot elsewhere. Titles in-house matter a lot. When I left, I would not have been willing to make the move without the AGC title. Now that I have it, the next step is either AGC at a larger company or GC at my (or another) Company if it becomes available.
I have been hearing the bolded portion a bit. How many years out where when get got the AGC title? I would be corporate counsel as a midlevel, but if the company and legal team are growing, could that develop into a new AGC role? Certainly situation-specific, but curious if your company would consider that, for example. Obviously don't want to go into a terminal position at this stage fo my career.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by d3909615 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:50 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:No regrets at all. Any issues I have with working in-house would be amplified 10x if I were in a law firm. Most of the issues I have are specific to the company that I'm at (no job is perfect), and aren't endemic to in-house as a whole.

We track our hours here. We just switched from a basic (and annoying) spreadsheet tool that allowed us to put hours into buckets to a more traditional law firm time tracker. I actually prefer this. If we're going to track time, I want to be able to gauge my own efficiency on a matter by matter basis. Since we're not worried about billables, it's a minor annoyance.

I think the biggest annoyance is that we're treated as a cost center, so everything that we do to make our jobs easier and more efficient is looked at quite skeptically. If we hired 3 secretaries, they would pay for their annual salary in a couple of months. The attorneys would get a substantial number of hours back by passing the basic clerical work to secretaries. However, there seems to be an order of magnitude more resistance to hiring a $35k secretary than hiring a $150k attorney.
How much of your time is spent doing secretarial work?

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:All helpful, thank you. It seems the situation is much better in the near-term, but what about long-term prospects? Would a corp counsel in a growing company under a single AGC have decent room for career growth? Or would that be almost a terminal position with a need to jump to another company for a promotion? Still on partner track here, which has a very clear progression over the next 30 years, while in-house seems daunting in how unpredictable my career would be over that time.
This really depends on size of the Company. If you are #3 in the legal department, part of it would be based on how old the GC and AGC are (or how likely they are to move). The path of least resistance would be for the GC to leave, AGC and you each move up into the roles. Alternatively, after a couple years you could look for an AGC spot elsewhere. Titles in-house matter a lot. When I left, I would not have been willing to make the move without the AGC title. Now that I have it, the next step is either AGC at a larger company or GC at my (or another) Company if it becomes available.
I have been hearing the bolded portion a bit. How many years out where when get got the AGC title? I would be corporate counsel as a midlevel, but if the company and legal team are growing, could that develop into a new AGC role? Certainly situation-specific, but curious if your company would consider that, for example. Obviously don't want to go into a terminal position at this stage fo my career.
I was a third year. It often has less to do with how senior you are and more to do with the legal department size. If there is only a GC, then you should fight for the AGC title if you are the #2. If there is a GC and contracts attorney and you are coming in as the number 2 still, again, I would ask for it. The title matters less than where you are in the structure. If you are "corporate counsel" but there is only a GC above you, you can negotiate that you will get the title in a couple years if you earn it plus when you interview you can say you were the #2. If there are multiple attorneys above you, that makes it harder. There will typically always only be 1 GC and 1 AGC then a number of supporting lawyers depending on size of legal department.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by totesTheGoat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:14 pm

d3909615 wrote: How much of your time is spent doing secretarial work?
First order, direct secretarial work (e.g. filling in document templates with case info, gathering documents, maintaining the database, dealing with minor issues with OC) probably averages 4 to 6 hours/week. Some job responsibilities are very heavy in this type of work, some are relatively light. I could probably cut it in half by putting together a few mail merge templates and a handful of automation scripts. (I'm a former software engineer)

Second order, indirect secretarial work (e.g. keeping and validating a docket, organizing various types of information relating to cases and my other responsibilities, pulling database reports for GC/AGC/C-suite) probably another 3 to 5 hours/week.

It's not enough of an issue for me to put my programming skills to use in my free time, but it's enough to be quite annoying. I'll say that I've worked in other companies that didn't have this issue.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by d3909615 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:22 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:
d3909615 wrote: How much of your time is spent doing secretarial work?
First order, direct secretarial work (e.g. filling in document templates with case info, gathering documents, maintaining the database, dealing with minor issues with OC) probably averages 4 to 6 hours/week. Some job responsibilities are very heavy in this type of work, some are relatively light. I could probably cut it in half by putting together a few mail merge templates and a handful of automation scripts. (I'm a former software engineer)

Second order, indirect secretarial work (e.g. keeping and validating a docket, organizing various types of information relating to cases and my other responsibilities, pulling database reports for GC/AGC/C-suite) probably another 3 to 5 hours/week.

It's not enough of an issue for me to put my programming skills to use in my free time, but it's enough to be quite annoying. I'll say that I've worked in other companies that didn't have this issue.
Thanks helpful.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by totesTheGoat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 2:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:There will typically always only be 1 GC and 1 AGC then a number of supporting lawyers depending on size of legal department.
We're one of the exceptions. We have 4 layers of legal management, including one above the GC, and we have 3.5 layers of individual contributor. Unless you have 7 or 8 years' experience, you come in at the bottom rung of the individual contributor ladder. If you have 8+ years' experience, you can possibly come in at the second rung, but that's fairly rare. Usually, we promote from within to fill the higher rungs of the ladder and hire people with 5ish years' experience into the open bottom rung position. Obviously, management positions are "die, quit, or retire" positions, and we tend to promote from within much more often than hiring externally into a management position.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by nealric » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:55 pm

No regrets at all. I went in-house as a 4th year associate 5 years ago. The quality of life improvement was immense, and I find the work more interesting. F500 energy company.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:31 pm

Any advice for someone who just finished first year doing a very specific niche practice (think lev fin debt work)? I really don't think I want this to be my practice as I don't have interest in going inhouse to a bank to do the same kind of work, which seems to be the most common exit. In fact, its almost typical to get a secondment while at the firm. I am thinking of lateraling to another big law firm to change my practice area but the ultimate goal is to go in-house.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:19 pm

lateraling might help but it depends on the kind of practice or really what kind of clients you end up working with next. even in general corporate some companies prefer people with work mostly in their area/industry.
also, generally you'd mostly have issues because of the people you work with or the company/recent health and job insecurity. those are the most important things you'd really need to dig into and ask about if you don't already know someone on the inside with perspective and are good reasons to stay put or look for something else.

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Pulsar » Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:23 pm

Anyone go in-house from litigation at a big firm? Curious how often this happens/what your experience was like.

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