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In time gone by there has been a long history of many private practice lawyers making the move to join in-house teams or to become sole legal counsel.
The desire to do so is often fuelled by the wish to join somewhere where they can be close to a business and play a substantive role in its direction and development. In addition the prospect of more regularised working hours is often appealing (whether they prove to be regular can be another matter entirely) and above all the prospect of not time recording.
However, as law firms move more away from archaic models and become more business orientated themselves, it is becoming far more common to see in-house lawyers returning to private practice and more importantly for firms to recognise the added value that in-house experience can bring.
Client development and service delivery are often the watchwords of corporate/commercial firms as they assess how they deliver their services, what clients are looking for and how those clients like to work. In-house lawyers are in the privileged position of not only having developed their contacts from within their sector area but also understand how the interface between in-house teams, clients and law firms works best. Aside from the legal skill set, that knowledge and understanding can prove invaluable to a law firm.
In the current climate, law firms are also adopting their approach to working hours, routes to promotion and ensuring that above all they too are inextricably involved in their clients’ businesses.
As a result a lot of in-house lawyers are seeing that (time-sheets aside), they can start to achieve what they were looking for in in-house roles but within private practice. The advent of ABS will also bring into play conjoining other disciplines and sectors where the in-house experience will be a valued resource.
The transition to private practice is often not as difficult as people envisage. Time-sheets are after all only ever traded away for internal reporting that any in-house lawyer has to do to justify their existence to the board and the business. It is often the case that the feared “business development” is actually more second nature to those coming from in-house given the plethora of contacts they may have made within industry as a matter of course in their day to day activities (often without realising). Equally the rewards in private practice can be greater and the sense of satisfaction in doing a good job for a client, easy to find.
The transition is nothing to fear and the opportunities are only set to increase and for those in-house considering making a move, the route to private practice can offer a great deal and it is certainly worth speaking to one of our consultants to find out what is out there and where your skill set will be recognised and embraced.