We spend a lot of time talking with successful attorneys that are currently practicing in law firms and a common theme that comes out of these discussions is that many attorneys want to take their practice in-house. We get it! It sounds nice to practice for one client, be more involved in the business, have endless opportunities for career advancement, and the list goes on.
But, have you really thought this through?
Is a lawyer really better off in-house?
Here are 4 things to consider:
1. Less Pay in your future
Typically in-house positions pay less than law firm roles. As a rule of thumb, an associate can expect to earn 10-20% less when moving from a law firm to a corporation.
2. Better Work-Life balance… not necessarily
This is one of the greatest fallacies of the in-house environment. I know many attorneys that desired to work less, who now work almost as much as when they were in a law firm, but are now doing so for less money.
3. One Client
Is it really better to work for one client? What happens when that one client decides your services are no longer needed? While the demands of law firm life are significant, it is comforting to know you have many clients that rely on your expertise. When is the last time a law firm decided to relocate legal to another state?
4. Career Control
If putting your destiny in your own hands is of interest, there isn’t a better place to do that than a law firm. The best attorneys I’ve seen have become more business counselors than just practitioners. Their clients rely on them to help run the business better and to get ideas off the ground. When providing this level of service for many clients, you also create your own job security. And, if career advancement is what you’re looking for, there are endless opportunities to grow within a firm. Associate, Partner, Practice Group Leader, Board of Director, Managing Partner are all progressions that are possible. Dream big!
As a young lawyer, you’ll never have better training than what you’ll receive at a firm. And, if income, job security and career progression are of interest, there isn’t a better place in the legal profession than a law firm. I’m not saying no one should never go in-house, but it should be well thought out. The next time you receive a call from a headhunter about that fantastic in-house opportunity, take a second and think through what you are leaving behind.