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Misconceptions Regarding In-House Work

Misconceptions Regarding In-House Work

Experienced Los Angeles Legal Recruiter

In today’s fast-changing legal market, in-house work is increasingly seen as an excellent alternative to the Biglaw career track.  In-house work has long been associated with better work-life balance outcomes, and has therefore built something of a reputation as a career path for family-oriented attorneys who are looking to “settle down” and reduce their overall workload.

Though this may be true in some respects, as in-house legal departments (in California and throughout the country) expand, they are now being viewed in a rather different light — certainly, there is a sense among many industry observers that more high-level work is being pushed to the in-house context, thus creating opportunities for ambitious attorneys outside of Biglaw.

Perception does not always match reality, however.  Let’s examine some of the common misconceptions about in-house work (in today’s market) that many attorneys continue to believe.

Business Responsibilities

Perhaps the longest-running misconception of in-house work is the belief that it will afford many opportunities for a “business-minded” attorney to make the transition to a more strategic role on the business side.  Attorneys who daydream about leaving the law behind, and perhaps one day making important product or marketing decisions, often perceived in-house work as an effective pathway.

In truth, however, though in-house attorneys do interface with the business-side of a client’s operations on a regular basis, there is very little opportunity to actually make decisions that are purely business-oriented.  At larger companies, there tends to be a strict decision-making hierarchy that will not afford counsel much leeway to take on real strategic responsibilities on the business side.  At smaller companies that are friendlier to a “flat” hierarchy, there may be more opportunity to engage with the business side, but it is not necessarily at the level necessary to make a career transition of that nature.

High-Level Work

The legal industry is shifting quite rapidly in recent years, with in-house legal departments now hiring larger and more specialized teams of attorneys so that they can internally handle some of the work that they would previously have outsourced to firms.  Though this is certainly a trend worth noting, it’s important not to “expect” work (at least on a routine basis) that is of the same complexity as work that you would be handling in Biglaw.  Given the enormous discrepancies from department to department, we can help you identify which in-house departments actually afford their attorneys the opportunity to engage with high-level work.

Lifestyle Improvements

Work-life balance is often a perceived advantage of in-house work in comparison to Biglaw work, and this is generally true, but it is not always as significant advantage as one might initially believe.  Legal departments tend to follow the culture of the primary organization as a whole — if the company is known for understaffing projects and pushing for workers to go through “crunch” periods, then that will almost certainly have an impact on the legal department.  For example, you may have to “crunch” along with a product development team in order to resolve certain compliance concerns.

Litigation Practice

For a long time, litigators believed that there was little-to-no room for them in the in-house context.  This was not an unreasonable perception — for many in-house legal departments, it is simply not cost-efficient to have a full-time litigator on staff.  As in-house legal departments grow their staff and increasingly begin to handle disputes using internal staff, there is more room for litigators to make the move in-house.  Further, even if there is the need to outsource litigation work to a specialized firm, in-house departments value litigators who have client-facing experience and who can properly mediate the relationship between the company and the firm over the course of the dispute.

Contact Garb Jaffe & Associates for a Consultation

If you’re an attorney — in the transactional field, or in litigation — looking to make the jump to in-house work, then we can help you transition into an in-house legal department that is most suitable for your needs and career preferences.

Here at Garb Jaffe & Associates, our experienced Los Angeles legal recruiters have spent decades working with attorney-candidates make transformative changes to their career path, whether that involves moving to an in-house position or simply changing firms.  We are committed to the provision of comprehensive legal recruitment assistance — unlike many of our competitors, we work closely with candidates from the start of their job search, helping them to identify and evaluate potential positions, develop their application, and prepare for the hiring process.

As legal recruiters, we do not charge attorney-candidates for our services.  Instead, we are paid by firms and legal departments to find attorney-candidates that are well-suited for the positions.  Given that we are not paid until six months after placement, this creates an incentive structure that encourages truly detail-oriented guidance and “best-fit” job placements.

Ready to move forward?  Call 310-207-0727 or send us a message online to connect to an experienced Los Angeles legal recruiter at Garb Jaffe today.

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