Articles From the Team
When’s the best time to move in-house? Look before you leap.
A move in-house remains a popular career path choice for many solicitors. The opportunity to work ‘closer to the business’, concentrate on supporting the commercial aims of one business, see the fruits of your labour implemented and knock those pesky chargeable hours targets on the head, proves to be a real draw for both transactional lawyers and litigators alike.
But when’s the best stage of your career to move in-house? There’s a growing school of thought that you shouldn’t jump ship from private practice too early, especially if you’re with a big firm, with a structured training programme, extensive resources, daily law updates and a mentoring scheme.
At the risk of stating the obvious, when you’re a junior solicitor, you’re still learning your craft, you’re not the finished article. You might be itching to get away from private practice but at the same time, you might not fully appreciate the level of training you’re exposed to in the big firms, and it can be tempting to take it for granted.
I’ve spoken to quite a few in-house lawyers recently who have regretted a too-early move away from private practice and now wished they’d stayed another 2 or 3 years… And equally I’ve spoken to private practice lawyers who often find their in-house peers a bit lacking in technical skills for their PQE level.
Of course not all in-house roles are the same, but unless you’re moving to a large and very structured, well resourced team that takes ongoing training seriously, you can sometimes feel as if you’ve been cast adrift without any real structure or training, and you can’t build your technical skills as effectively.
If you want to ‘be the best you can be’ it might be a better idea to properly hone those technical skills for a few years before you make the leap…
Or if you can’t bear time-recording and targets a moment longer (don’t forget some in-house roles also have time-recording though…) you could go for the half-way house and join the in-house legal team of a major law firm. You genuinely are an in-house lawyer, advising a global business on its commercial and regulatory risks, but with all the resources and ongoing training of a private practice lawyer. Have your cake and eat it? Yes you can.