In House – is the grass greener?

I have lost track over the years of the number of commercial, corporate, banking, construction and employment solicitors that I have spoken to who are desperate to move “in house”. Sure, there are the well-rehearsed arguments around “adding value to a business” and “being part of the business” but for most people I think the honest driver is simply to escape the long hours, billing culture of private practice.

That’s all well and good – but ultimately you are going to have to “produce” to keep your well paid in house job just as you have to “bill” to keep your private practice job – there is no such thing as a free lunch!

In addition people seem blind to the fact that you only have one ‘client’ that you cannot escape and the work can be repetitive and frustrating as you can be given little leeway by the company you work in and act for. Once you have moved in house it can be extremely difficult to move back into private practice so it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

That said there are of course some excellent options and great, rewarding careers to be forged in house – but choose wisely – get the move wrong and you could end up bored, trapped and being asked to advise on areas of law you know nothing about.

It may be that you just need a different style of private practice – not all firms are the same – and some are now introducing agile and flexible working and some are moving away from the billable hours culture. Look before you leap – a career spanning 40+ years should not be recklessly thrown away at 5 years pqe just in pursuit of the “Holy Grail”: status – in house lawyer.

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