Interview: Should you move in-house?
We speak with Jo Jamieson, former Silver Circle Private Practice lawyer who made the move in-house, to get her insight into why she decided to make the move in-house.
In a recent survey we asked lawyers working in Private Practice where they see their careers progressing: 41% said ‘moving in-house’; 26% said staying in Private Practice and the remainder were not sure or saw their future outside of law. Our experience supports the trend of these statistics.
Alex: What made you decide to move in-house?
Jo: When I worked in Private Practice I thought that working in-house would offer a broader range of experience and provide more opportunity to work closely with non lawyers within the business, providing a more commercially rounded experience. It was also appealing to remove the need for time sheets!
Alex: What do you find are the main differences between Private Practice and in-house?
Jo: Working in-house, you have to be able to approach decisions from a business, as well as legal, perspective. You generally take more “risks” than you’d do as a Private Practice lawyer, albeit calculated ones! I find that I have to adapt my style and approach more working in-house, depending on whether I am advising senior leadership, negotiating with a customer or dealing with a potentially litigious situation. I also feel that working in-house gave me extra responsibility at an earlier stage of my career than I would have received if I’d have stayed in Private Practice.
Alex: Do you think that moving in-house has given you a more varied workload?
Jo: I work for a big company with a sizeable legal team, so my role is specialist as it was within Private Practice. When I speak to my friends who work as lawyers at smaller companies without as much resource as we have, they tell me that their roles are much more generalist than when they worked in Private Practice.
Alex: We always hear ‘in-house lawyers get a better work-life balance’, do you think this is accurate?
Jo: When I worked in Private Practice I always thought that working in-house would give a better work-life balance, which I think is typical for most Private Practice lawyers, especially within the big firms. When lawyers are working late within Private Practice it’s easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side! I’d say on the whole that this is accurate, as although you work hard in-house, it’s rare that you do the late nights which are standard within Private Practice.
Alex: Will you ever move back into Private Practice?
Jo: I think Private Practice affords junior lawyers the opportunity to get an excellent technical grounding and senior lawyers a chance to be an expert in their field. I’m certainly glad I trained in and experienced the Private Practice environment at a great firm. I am really happy working in-house right now, being in the thick of it with the business, but we will have to see what the future brings; never say never!