Life as an In-House Lawyer

Alicia Molony, Legal Search Consultant

For many years, it has been seen that to be successful and make your fortune in law you must: pick a firm, commit to them and slowly work your way up to partnership.

While this path still presents its benefits, today it seems that working in-house also leads to wealth, career progression and exciting opportunities.

To help those thinking about making the transition from private practice to in-house, Sonder’s Legal Search Consultant and In-House Specialist, Alicia Molony, has answered a number of frequently asked questions, revealing current trends and how COVID-19 has affected the market.  

 Discover key insights from Alicia below… 

Q. In a snapshot, what are the main benefits of working as a lawyer in-house?

Working in-house allows you to be part of a team, day in and day out. You are involved in the business on a far deeper level and are relied upon to make key business decisions. You have the opportunity to work closely with an organisations and regularly interface with upper-level management and executives, allowing you to interact with like-minded individuals who are all working towards a common goal.

In an in-house setting, there is no other business development pressure, need or requirement. The company is your client. You have the ability to work very closely with one organisation, without the worry of developing new business at the same time. One of the most notable benefits of working in-house is losing the billable hour, however some in-house legal teams may still have internal KPI’s and budgets that need to be met.

Q. Because of this, would you say a move in-house is less demanding?

Some would argue that these benefits I just outlined present better lifestyle opportunities; you are doing what you love and have less stress about meeting targets. However, while there is a 9-5 myth that surrounds the in-house role, do not be deceived. This can sometimes be the case, but it is important to note that deliverables are business-driven and just as time- critical as tasks would be working in private practice, if not more. Working in-house can provide a means for greater flexibility and efficiency as you are servicing one client and will eventually come to learn the ins and outs the entire organisation.

Q. What kind of lawyer would suit a move in-house and what traits should they have? 

The best in-house lawyers should have a real curiosity to understand all of the operational aspects of the business as well as the key drivers. Truly understanding the business’s goals is essential, you will be required to have a full understanding of every detail of the business and be relied upon to direct and advise accordingly. The ability to manage internal stakeholders and be a ‘jack of all trades’ is also vitally important.  

 If you are a person that enjoys being a part of a team, working on deals from start to finish and believe you would enjoy working with and dedicating your time to one single client, then you should definitely consider a career as an in-house lawyer.

 A great way to ‘try before you buy’ is a secondment. Organisations look favourably upon applicant’s who have successfully completed a secondment (or 2 or 3) because those applicants have been able to experience the working environment of a corporate organisation. This will also give you an idea of what life is like working in-house before your dive straight in. 

Q. Since the start of the pandemic, how has the market been affected/ what trends have you seen?

 There has been a delay in the recruitment life cycle, however, this is largely down to the fact that key decision-makers are being pulled in other directions by more pressing commitments as a result of the pandemic. There are also a number of hiring freezes in place, particularly within financial services institutions, bringing only business critical roles to fruition.

 I have noticed a trend in terms of short-term or fixed term contract roles in an effort to deal with heavy workloads, while organisations wait for permanent hire approvals.  

 Many organisations have been on-boarding remotely, conducting video interviews and taking steps to engage candidates over a longer recruitment process. We have also seen companies suggest delayed start dates for new starters, which has proven to be a fantastic initiative to secure top talent.

Q. How have in-house lawyers been utilised during COVID-19?

The role of the in-house legal function is rapidly evolving to keep pace with the changing needs of the businesses that they support. In the current climate, in-house lawyers have become a key player in the company’s crisis management task force, which can include a varying workload given the volatility of the current market place.

I have seen the in-house role changing from being that of general advisor and risk spotter to becoming a true strategic partner and business enabler. They are now relied upon heavily to oversee business operations and even have a seat at the table.

Q. What industries have been affected most by COVID and what in-house lawyers are currently in-demand?

 Industries most affected by Covid-19 include retail, luxury consumer goods, travel & tourism with the worst affected being the hospitality sector including hotels, restaurants, stadiums and cruise lines.

Despite the slightly slower pace of recruitment, it’s important to stay in touch with your recruitment consultant and map out your ideal next role. Doing so, will ensure you are considered as a candidate as and when the right opportunities arise.

 In-house legal functions are currently being pushed to full capacity in order to help organisations navigate through the COVID 19 crisis. As such, there will no doubt be a V rebound in recruitment for in-house lawyers and staying in touch with your recruitment consultant is the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on your dream role! 

Interested in making the move in-house?

To discuss advancing your career with a move in-house contact Alicia Molony today on

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”
– A Lincoln
For more information on salary trends, market updates and the general process in securing a role.
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