Emma Delli-Bovi
Emma Delli-Bovi
Senior Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

In-house solicitor vs private practice: an age-old debate

There’s a perception that moving from private practice to an in-house solicitor role will effectively give you an ‘easy life’.

I regularly speak to private practice lawyers who tell me they’re keen to land an in-house legal job because the in-house role offers more flexibility, a work/life balance and an all-around better standard of living.

I beg to differ!

I recently spoke to a client who has over 1000 different working patterns at the firm: to accommodate all its employees who are on different paths.

Afforded flexibility: in-house and private practice

I accept that everyone’s job search is motivated by something different (this is one of the reasons why I love my job) but I find it hard to accept when a lawyer tells me they’re eager to move into an in-house solicitor role for flexibility alone.

Nowadays, private practice offers hundreds of different working patterns to make for a genuine work/life balance. I recently spoke to a client who has over 1000 different working patterns at the firm: to accommodate all its employees who are on different paths. In addition, I’ve just helped a lawyer candidate find a new role on a four-day working week; the private practice firm was more than happy to accommodate this requirement in offering the role.

Suitability for the in-house solicitor role

Moving in-house is ideal for lawyers seeking an opportunity to advise, in effect, one ‘client’. It’s a position where you must forge strong internal relationships in becoming the go-to for all things legal.

An in-house solicitor is so closely aligned with the business they work for; the position’s strategic; advising the business from within. Most in-house lawyers will tell you, it’s not an easy job! In addition, many work long hours, aren’t afforded the flexibility they want or need, and can’t attest to having a genuine work/life balance. Every role is different!

If you’re looking to make the move, a legal recruitment agency with a dedicated in-house team will provide you with all the support you need for a smooth transition. A good agency provides objective advice – giving you a ‘warts and all picture’ of each opportunity; be it a private practice or in-house solicitor role. An effective legal recruitment consultant should ask you questions to understand what motivates you, and then deliver a tailor-made service depending on what you’re looking for.

Private practice: let's speak the truth here

I can’t shy away from the fact that a traditional private practice model involves time-recording and clocking your fees, however, I can state with confidence that every firm’s different and while one practice might not let you leave until you’ve clocked up your 8 hours, another will be much more flexible. You may have had a bad experience before but don’t let it cloud your judgement!

All I suggest is if you’re looking to leave your current role don’t rule out private practice over an in-house solicitor role because you think you’re doomed to never leave the office!

Take some free advice from us and attend interviews/meetings with partners in order to understand the culture of the office.

Take some free advice from us and attend interviews/meetings with partners in order to understand the culture of the office. We’re moving away from the ‘chained to your desk’ workplace policies. Nowadays, most law firms offer agile working and working from home options for lawyers at all levels. For the right lawyer, practices will create an almost bespoke opportunity tailored to you and your lifestyle.

I believe it was Richard Branson who said: “take care of your employees and the rest will take care of itself.”

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