• Opinions vary as to whether an attorney should or should not go in-house.
  • Some attorneys believe going in-house was the best decision of their career, while others strongly disagree.
  • This is why going in-house is the most important move one can make in their legal career.

Introduction

The purpose of this article is to provide you with insight as to whether or not you should go in-house. Many attorneys claim that going in-house was their best career move. Conversely, some attorneys claim it was their biggest career mistake. In the end, going in-house is entirely up to you. You need to understand, however, that the decision to go in-house is one of the most significant career decisions you will ever make as an attorney.

The 'Dark Side' of Going In-house
 
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

On the plus side, many attorneys go in-house for more interesting work, shorter hours, potentially lucrative stock options, and the opportunity to be on the business side in a corporate environment. Depending upon the in-house environment, these reasons for going in-house may be entirely justified in all respects, and you may find yourself in an ideal situation. Yet, there are several little-known facts about going in-house that may not necessarily make it the best career decision for you:
 
  • It is extremely difficult to get another law firm job once you have gone in-house;
  • The overwhelming majority of attorneys do not reap an economic windfall when they go in-house;
  • It is very difficult to move to another in-house job once you have gone in-house;
  • Your legal skills are likely to deteriorate once you go in-house; and,
  • You may have to work as hard in-house as you did in a law firm.

A. It is Extremely Difficult to Get Another Law Firm Job Once You Have Gone In-House

A significant portion of the attorneys contacting us are attorneys whose most recent experience is in an in-house legal department. We rarely are able to help these attorneys transition into a law firm because law firms simply do not want them, regardless of how good of a law school they went to or how stellar their last law firm was. The market tells the story: Once you go in-house, you had better understand that you will be very unlikely to ever practice law with a large law firm ever again.