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Balancing The Inside-Outside Equation

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September 19, 2022

Legal recruiter Christine Berger takes up a perennial question for young law firm attorneys: Will I be better off ditching the life of the billable hour and trying to get comfortable somewhere in-house? The short answer in this post from the Above the Law blog is “maybe,” but it comes with an interesting gloss on some of the differences and the tradeoffs.

Differences in the hiring process is good place to start. The in-house candidate is likely to encounter a slower and in many ways a more extensive process, over a period of weeks. One stark difference: As an in-house candidate, assuming you get past the initial interview with the hiring manager and the meeting with your possible future colleagues, you are likely at some point to meet “the functional leaders you would support.” In other words, your clients, a cohort which the law firm candidate is unlikely to see until well after the hire. Then there is a whole spectrum of considerations that arise from the essential fact that in-house attorneys do not generate revenue.

A related issue: If you are expecting a 9-to-5 gig and the peace of mind that in theory comes with it, you will almost certainly be disappointed. Timelines are short, resources (including paralegals) are likely to be sparse or absent, responsibilities broad, and, particularly in startups, you may find yourself being perceived as the smartest person in the room. According to Berger that is a mixed blessing at best, as people will be inclined to tap you for input that is not necessarily in the legal domain.

You may in the end decide the tradeoffs are worth it. “But do think it through carefully,” she says. “The grass isn’t always greener.”

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