Articles From the Team
Take the stepping stones to where you want to go
When working with businesses that are looking to recruit an in-house lawyer as you would expect they have a pretty clear expectation of ‘who/ what’ they are looking for. In the main the lawyers that make the move in-house at c1-4 years PQE are coming from a ‘top tier’ law firm. As most in-house roles are commercial contracts in nature the majority of clients make lawyers with this experience their ‘1st call’. Next will be corporate lawyers and then commercial litigators. (Obviously this is not the case if the role is for an employment lawyer or property lawyer or a specific banking/ FS type role).
In addition, recruiting lawyers often like to recruit in ‘their image’ so if they spent 5 years in private practice before making the move in-house they like to see lawyers with the same number of years gained in private practice. If they came from corporate then they often like lawyers with this background and experience as well.
As you can see there are lots of different angles at play when we take a brief from a client.
So what if you are from another area of law and want to make the move in-house. Well it can be done but it might mean a stepping stone role is required to get you to where you truly want to be. Let me explain... I was working with a property finance lawyer who wanted to make the move in-house. On her wish list was, close to home/ city centre, well known brand, general commercial role in a decent sized legal team. Quite frankly what most lawyers ask for.
Although we try and deliver on what is asked of us the bottom line was that this person was going to struggle to get what they wanted. Why? For starters they were not coming from a top tier law firm and didn’t have the 3 areas of ‘most requested’ legal expertise. And then there is the competition from other more applicable job seekers.
On the flip side we were working with a client that although led by a top tier lawyer was not a recognised brand and the location meant a bit of a commute. A lack of interest in the role meant the client was ‘open to ideas’.
When I first told the property finance lawyer about the role they dismissed it out of hand… but a month or so on after being rejected by other bigger clients they re-evaluated their decision and went for it. Delighted to say they got the job and are now in-house. I don’t know how long they will stay in this role but I can guarantee that once they come back to the market they will be deemed ‘more appropriate’ than they were before making this move!
My suggestion would be to keep an open mind when looking for your first in-house move – not only might you be surprised by the opportunity put in front of you, I guarantee it will open up a whole new world of options in the future.