In-House vs Private Practice in Legal Sector - Part 2
In part 2 of this series, we take a look at which sectors have the highest demand for in-house lawyers, and explore the transition from private practice to in house.
Making the move from Private Practice to In-House
Although the world of in-house may seem far more tantalising to some in the current legal landscape, it’s important to note that the transition from a law firm to working in-house or for a company can be quite challenging and is certainly not an easier option!
We see more and more newly qualified in-house opportunities, and these can be excellent positions for junior lawyers if and only if it’s right for them. Some junior lawyers need more structure than others – and these should concentrate on the larger in-house legal teams that offer increased support and camaraderie.
It's important to take advantage of the support and training in private practice for as long as possible – this is one thing that law firms have got absolutely right – because going in-house can be a daunting transition, especially on qualification. Others may have done an in-house secondment during their training contract, or have previous experience in a paralegal role within a company. For these lawyers the move can be more straightforward, and they may have a wider range of options within more compact legal teams.
Junior lawyers seeking an in-house move tend to work in private practice for at least two years or more in order to get a good grounding in commercial law and develop their business acumen. In doing this, they should strive to obtain as much client exposure as possible, listening to what their clients are actually saying, and simultaneously deliver good and commercially viable advice along with developing their own commercial nous.
The In-house landscape can be varied and exciting. However, it can also be less stable as businesses and organisations change through merger, acquisition or organic growth. You should be prepared to work for more than one organisation if you wish to progress from junior to senior level, as sometimes this can be the only way to achieve promotion and career development, in what are still relatively small teams as compared to private practice.
Although the move to in-house may be a welcome change from tedious timesheets and billable hours, it may also feel more unstructured and less hierarchical. This could be a good thing! As an in-house solicitor, you will need to be more autonomous and flexible in your approach. You'll also need to familiarise yourself with a great deal of non-legal material, as you learn about the organisation and the way it ticks over.
Click here to find out about the various avenues for career progression within the in-house legal sector.
About the author
Adam Zdravkovic – who initially pursued a career as a trainee solicitor – is a legal specialist and Divisional Manager for Search Legal in Manchester. He has a thorough knowledge of the industry and over 7 years of experience providing legal recruitment solutions to a variety of companies, organisations and law firms. Adam focuses on in-house recruitment for commerce and industry clients, and manages a team of private practice and international legal recruitment specialists.
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