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Factors Pushing Some Attorneys From In-House to Biglaw

Factors Pushing Some Attorneys From In-House to Biglaw

In-house work is often seen as the “standard” for attorneys who are tired of Biglaw, or who are at least considering their exit opportunities.  For a long time, in-house work was seen as a great alternative for those who are tired of the grit-and-grind of a competitive Biglaw career, and a way for attorneys to secure more control over their work-life balance while specializing in an industry that interests them.

In truth, however, there are many attorneys who make the transition to in-house work who subsequently find that they’re disappointed by the result — perhaps they expected something entirely different than what they got.  As in-house departments expand their teams, much of what was accepted as gospel (with regard to in-house work) is changing.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that are causing attorneys to reconsider their transition to an in-house position.  Consider the following.

In-House Work May Not Be Sufficiently High-Level or Exciting

Oftentimes, competitive, high-energy attorneys find themselves bored by their in-house projects. Many in-house departments are over-exaggerating the frequency of exciting internal projects, and the complexity thereof, in order to lure high-end Biglaw attorneys who are on the fence about moving in-house.

Biglaw attorneys may find that having just a single client can be excessively limiting, and that they enjoyed balancing the needs and requirements of multiple clients.  Though having a single client may seem fine in the initial stages, over the course of years it can be quite stifling.  Some in-house attorneys get around this boredom by switching employers (to another in-house position) every few years, but at the end of the day, nothing will compare to the volume and complexity of the legal work in the Biglaw environment.

In-House Work Expectations Can Be Quite Variable

Though many attorneys move in-house on the assumption that there will be lower expectations when it comes to logging hours, and that scheduling will be more flexible, there is a lot of variety in the legal industry — in-house departments can be quite taxing, depending on where you land.  Some attorneys find that the work culture of their in-house department is actually “worse” than that of their Biglaw firm.  As such, it’s important that you work with a skilled legal recruiter who can utilize their network to identify ideal placements and avoid the frustration of being a poor fit for the work environment.

Monetary Advantages

Generally speaking, Biglaw pays equivalently-experienced attorneys more.  Though rare exceptions exist, you will likely be financially rewarded by staying in Biglaw.

Alternative Career Tracks Are Being Implemented in the Biglaw Context

It’s worth noting that Biglaw has not remained stagnant all these years.  Though slow to change, Biglaw firms have been offering a variety of options to keep talented attorneys on board.  Alternative career tracks — such as part-time attorney arrangements, or remote arrangements — are increasingly common, though many attorneys have been nervous about transitioning into such tracks for fear of losing any leverage they may have in a competitive job market.

If you are concerned about your work-life balance, then it may be the case that you can stay in the Biglaw industry but go down an alternative career track.

Excellence is Not Directly Rewarded

In-house attorneys do not necessarily have performance incentives — nor is the atmosphere necessarily competitive enough — to breed a culture of excellence.  Though many in-house departments are hiring high-end Biglaw attorneys in an effort to improve internal legal sophistication, it is unlikely that an ambitious, competitive attorney (who prides themselves on performing at the highest level) will be happy in a more laidback in-house environment as compared to the fast-paced Biglawe environment.

Simply put: excellence is simply not rewarded or recognized as directly as it is in the Biglaw environment.  This can create an overall culture of stagnancy, which may bore some attorneys and frustrate others.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Legal Recruiter at Garb Jaffe & Associates for Guidance

If you’re an attorney who has been contemplating a move back into the Biglaw world, or are simply curious as to whether the in-house track will be right for you (compared to your law firm position), then we encourage you to contact us at Garb Jaffe & Associates for comprehensive professional assistance.  Our experienced Los Angeles legal recruiters have extensive networks in both Biglaw and prestigious in-house legal departments throughout California, and have a long track record of success in securing placements for attorney-candidates.

Ready to learn more?

Call (310) 207-0727 or send us a message online to request an appointment with a legal recruiter here at Garb Jaffe.  We look forward to evaluating your career track and your preferences, and helping you move forward in a positive manner.

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