• Heidi Bayer

In-house vs. Private Practice: Is the Grass Always Greener? (Part II )


As previously shared, being legal recruiters, we have insight into the many differences between working in-house versus working in private practice. Below are considerations when choosing the career path that is right for you.


WORK-LIFE BALANCE


Law Firm: Generally, lawyers in private practice manage matters for a multitude of clients at one time. As attorneys develop, they also experience the demands of originating business, which results in hours committed to business development. Depending on the firm, these demands can make achieving work-life balance more difficult.


In-house: Without the laborious task of billable hours and managing different clients, in-house attorneys are often thought to have less demands on their time and more freedom in their schedule. However, this may be the greatest misconception we experience in the legal market. Often, in-house attorneys work as many hours, if not more, than private practice attorneys, so achieving work-life balance ultimately depends on the specific opportunity.


COLLEAGUES


Law Firm: There can be comradery in working with a group of professionals who share your skills. Attorneys at firms find a support system in having mentors and colleagues down the hall. The office also operates around their needs and is designed to assist in a lawyer’s success – from administrative staff, to the office space, to access to research, and many other aspects of firm life.


In-house: Unless there is a larger legal department, in-house counsel often works independently, which may result in less access to expeditious answers and the absence of a team to facilitate the workflow. Hence, the necessity to wear more hats and to develop a network in order to get the advice and assistance needed to perform the role.


CLIENTS


Law Firm: As clients generate the revenue behind an attorney’s practice, knowing how to obtain and retain them is what makes a firm, and its attorneys, successful. While some private practice attorneys handle the work of a few larger clients, the majority are required to have many clients, which can impact the depth of those relationships.


In-house: In contrast, there is only one client to understand when in-house and subsequently, in-house attorneys typically become fully integrated into the business and can see the ongoing and long-term effects of their legal advice.

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