Thinking about a move in house? 9 things to think about before you make the move
1.Your practice area
By virtue of the skills demanded by organisations, candidates with experience in certain practice areas are in more demand than others.
It is common for lawyers to get roles in house if they have experience in corporate/ commercial law, technology, funds/financial services, banking and finance and front -end projects.
Outside of this, lawyers with experience in transactional M&A, litigation (with an exception of some of the big banks), insolvency, property. family, criminal, employment and competition may find it harder to secure a role.
2. Future plans
If you want to move overseas at some point in your career, it might be worth putting off an in house move until you have spent the time overseas as it may be harder to move internationally once you are in house.
3. Current location
If you are based outside of the jurisdiction that you are hoping to work in it can be difficult to find a role in house. When looking for a candidate many organisations will prefer someone admitted in the jurisdiction where the role is based and for the candidate to have experience obtained within that jurisdiction. If your plan is to relocate, it is often easier to secure a role in a law firm first and then after you have expertise in the local market make the transition in house.
It should come as no surprise that lawyers with between 3-8 PQE are most in demand when it comes to securing in-house roles. Lawyers outside of that PQE range will be considered and do get roles but the number of positions available tend to thin out the more senior you become.
There is a real variance in the salaries that in-house lawyers attract. Some organisations pay extremely well and packages can include bonuses and benefits like car allowances but note that once you make the move in house you will become a cost to the business as opposed to a fee generator and the rate of raises and uplifts may differ to what you would normally expect if you were at a law firm.
Many people believe that when working in house you have a better work life balance. This certainly can be true but it is not always the case and expectations can differ wildly from organisation to organisation. Many in house lawyers work as long or longer hours than their respective counterparts would at a law firm.
Not all companies are based in the CBD, many organisations headquarters are on the city fringes or further afield in business parks that might have poor public transport links. If moving in house is your lifelong dream, it may be worth holing off any future house moves until you have secured a role to give you access to the maximum number of opportunities.
8. What happens if?
After you have moved in house it will not be impossible to get back into practice and it is becoming increasingly common. It is worth noting that if you make the move and it doesn’t work out, moving back into a law firm in the immediate 12-18 months should be possible (depending on the organisation you have moved to).
Finding a role in house can be extremely competitive and often there are several high-quality applicants for each role. It is not uncommon for organisations to have their pick of up to 10-12 suitably skilled candidates. This can mean that making the move will take time and securing a role might be a much longer process.
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