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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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:15 pm

First, if you haven't cruised around the Lawyer Whisperer blog, you should. Her advice is excellent, she focused on tech company placements and really has a pulse on salaries, the market, career trajectory and legal trends.

I'm in house. I was seconded as a third year to a tech company in SF, and then I stayed. Legal Dept of 1. I was staffed as a midlevel at my firm because I was a paralegal for many years before I went to law school. I took a slight pay cut to go in-house but my options are worth a fair bit, based on secondaries our company has done.

I do: corporate (my background--this includes venture, M&A, securities law, secondaries, all board matters/corpgov, stock admin), techtrans/commercial (all procurement, customer contracts, terms of service, privacy, product counseling), employment, real estate, immigration (mostly outsourced to outside counsel), IP (outsourced).

When I took my job, I negotiated salary based on others returning (the person on mat leave) and the fact that we were intending to hire a GC soon. That...hasn't happened.

I'm exhausted. My company has a weekend digital blackout, in theory, but it doesn't really apply to me--I work a lot of weekends. I work more than I did in biglaw. I have less help than I did in biglaw.

If I were going in house, I'd want to know:

- what is the department's plan for growth (headcount) and how does personal development work?
- what is the department's strategy/mission?
- how liberally do you use outside counsel? for what types of matters?
- if at a tech company, who runs the cap/does stock admin?
- who will you report to? CEO? CFO? Another legal department member?
- how closely are finance and legal integrated?
- how does contract management/records/knowledge management work in the Legal Dept?
- what is the company's "culture of compliance" in general? Is your CEO a renegade or a rule-follower?
- when are Legal's busiest times of year? why?
- is legal seen as a strategic partner, embedded in BUs, or is it its own beast? Is legal seens as a cost center?
- how have promotions historically worked in the Legal department? Raises? Title changes?
- what is the comp mix between base/bonus/equity? Is your bonus based on individual performance or BU performance or company performance?
- will they pay bar dues? for PLI? for Westlaw/Lexis access? for you to attend conferences or CLEs?

There's a bunch more things I would have asked...but these are things I'd probe gently around and some I'd wait to ask until I had an offer in hand.

I still don't regret going in-house...I'm tired, but it's still better than the 100% beck-and-call of corporate. And I love not keeping my time (we track tasks elaborately in JIRA, but not time per se).

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:47 pm

I guess the pitfalls could be with being misled or having a poor fit with the people, work-related/life balance/volume or security. I would second everything on anon above list. Also, to add to some of points of the below from the perspective of mature but failing company:
- what is the plan for growth/headcount? how big is the legal department and how is it split? why is there a position open now or is this a newly funded position (and why is it?)? where did the previous person go and why/when did the person leave? You probably won't get a straight answer on why but the when and where are useful. If they are dodgy about the history of people in the legal department or the position then=flag. Or, try to reach out to that person, former legal if you can find them independently, or someone on the team who you did not talk with.
- how and when/if outside counsel is used what are the parameters or if most work is kept in house, why is work kept in house? Do they also have enough appropriately leveled/senior legal staff members with the right previous experience or expertise to really handle most matters in house? Or are legal resources provided for initial internal research and then possible outsourcing?
- if legal is seen as a cost center (which it probably will at a mature company with its department having lateraled/previous firm experience), how is the department at higher levels working to combat this? how or has this manifested in times the company is struggling financially?
- are there paralegals/support staff? also at a previous client the company had paralegals with senior titles but also doing a lot of work that an attorney should definitely have been doing or supervising. also there seemed to be people in the legal department with no prior experience handling matters that probably really needed some level of prior firm experience/exposure.
- what and if resources (westlaw, lexis, plc etc.) below are in the legal department? do all members of legal have them or is it dependent on something like practice area?
- what has been the trajectory of the company over the last 3, 5, 10 years? what are legal/company's goals in the next 1-3-5 years? is it growing, stable or downsizing? (definitely also pull any and all news articles for or about this and the company). A pre-offer question could be posed like "how do you think general opportunities with the company have changed while you've been here?"
- would check glassdoor etc. sometimes legal is actually in there but also sometimes not clearly labeled as legal since it can usually be a smaller department.

Anonymous User
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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:35 pm

after being laid off I'm not inclined to go somewhere I don't already know or trust someone with internal info or to a place with any hint of financial issues or instability

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RedGiant

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by RedGiant » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:47 am

hmmm...answering in bullets. Generally, no.

* I don't miss timesheets at all.
* I do miss having esoteric convos about nerdy law subjects with colleagues--I'm a solo. I hate that every question to explore an issue (or nerd out over weird possibilities) costs me/my company money. My colleagues and I would spitball issues or how to tackle things off the clock, but I'm a solo, so I either have to hit up my friends who are in-house other places (if I can maintain privilege) or think out loud re issues with outside counsel.
* I don't miss doing BD or writing articles or blog posts.
* I do wish I saved a little more in biglaw.
* I kinda hate that I'm an authority figure and management and I know a lot about HR and secret stuff--I used to be one of the minions, now I'm one of the top people (huge flip from the heirarchy of law firms!)
* I miss having colleagues or other offices to balance workloads with--OTOH, I have outside counsel to send stuff to--it's just pricy and I have to watch my budgets.
* I do miss having an office (open offices are a bummer!). But only our CEO has an office, so I gotta deal.
* I do like working cross-functionally and not having only attorney colleagues.
* I dislike having to explain conflicts and privilege shielding and other types of similar things with my non-lawyer colleagues (and the C-suite) who are annoyed when I am sometimes being super ethical.
* I love that my options are worth a lot and that I will likely end up making a lot more than my classmates that stayed in biglaw--I didn't take a huge paycut to go in house.

shock259

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by shock259 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:07 pm

Nope. The only downside from my perspective is that I took a pretty big pay cut. I'm trying to retire early, so this will extend the timeline a bit. But that's about it in terms of negatives.

Positives are everything else. I get to work on broad areas of the law, in less detail. I get to be very business-friendly and not bogged down in hypothetical things that won't really matter in the end. I get to know the business really well. My stress level has plummeted. I come in and leave every day at the same time. I've yet to have had to work on a weekend. I am able to work from home somewhat regularly.

One potential downside is whether I get bored in a year or two. Right now, I'm pretty content to be a bit bored. But that "striving" part of me that got me into biglaw and carried me through it may kick in again at some point down the road. But for now, just enjoying the ride.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:38 pm

I moved in house super quickly (as a first year).

I learned an incredible amount and would like to think I got pretty good at my role. Progression is much faster internally than how we hire external hires (5 vs 8+ years). The lifestyle wasn’t 9-5 but wasn’t horrible, and comp was competitive.

That being said I ended up moving to a business role in the company after a couple years as i realized I was a cost center for the company and a lot of times you are just being used as a CYA.

Anonymous User
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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:I moved in house super quickly (as a first year).

I learned an incredible amount and would like to think I got pretty good at my role. Progression is much faster internally than how we hire external hires (5 vs 8+ years). The lifestyle wasn’t 9-5 but wasn’t horrible, and comp was competitive.

That being said I ended up moving to a business role in the company after a couple years as i realized I was a cost center for the company and a lot of times you are just being used as a CYA.
Can you give more details on how you were able to 1. Go in house so quickly and 2. Move into the business role? Background, application process, etc would be great to hear about.

PcP784

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by PcP784 » Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:25 am

for those that go in-house, how do you deal with the prospect of being capped at a salary? vs. equity partners or shareholders who get a piece of the pie and whose salaries are theoretically uncapped?

I understand there is a prospect of stock options as in-house. But, seems the in-house people i know they get a salary + discretionary bonus....and that's it.

dabigchina

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by dabigchina » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:52 am

PcP784 wrote:for those that go in-house, how do you deal with the prospect of being capped at a salary? vs. equity partners or shareholders who get a piece of the pie and whose salaries are theoretically uncapped?

I understand there is a prospect of stock options as in-house. But, seems the in-house people i know they get a salary + discretionary bonus....and that's it.
If the prospect of making a mere 250k a year horrifies you, you should stay in biglaw.

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nealric

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Re: Anyone regret making the move inhouse?

Post by nealric » Wed Oct 23, 2019 5:09 pm

PcP784 wrote:for those that go in-house, how do you deal with the prospect of being capped at a salary? vs. equity partners or shareholders who get a piece of the pie and whose salaries are theoretically uncapped?

I understand there is a prospect of stock options as in-house. But, seems the in-house people i know they get a salary + discretionary bonus....and that's it.
You aren't really capped though. GCs in the F500 usually make well into the 7 figures (equivalent to biglaw rainmakers) and their deputies can make biglaw service partner level salaries. There also may be opportunities to move to the business side if the standard mid range in house package doesn't work for you.

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