Attorneys Seeking Greener Pastures In-House by LawCrossing


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									GCC NEWS FEATURE                                                                                  1. 800.973.1177

Attorneys Seeking Greener Pastures In-House
[By Vanessa K. Alvarez, Esq.]
What is it about going in-house that seems to increasingly draw attorneys from law firms to in-house legal departments? According to a recent survey
conducted by NALP, the attrition rate for experienced attorneys with about five years of experience jumped dramatically from 60% in 2000 to 78% in 2005.

A BCG Attorney Search survey concluded             providing pure legal advice to acting as legal      legal work and on the business dealings of
that approximately 80% of attorneys actively       counselors articulating the risks and benefits      their clients typically transition in-house.
seeking positions were interested in in-house      of making certain business decisions. The
opportunities. These attorneys expressed           appeal is obvious; attorneys practicing in-         3. Working In-House Can Lead to a More
concerns regarding their work/life balances,       house are looked upon as business advisors          Balanced Lifestyle.
rising billable requirements, business             providing tangible solutions to business
development demands, repetitive work, and          matters, rather than as pure technical              There is an ongoing debate over whether
unlikely prospects of becoming partners.           experts identifying legal problems.                 in-house counsel work fewer hours than
                                                                                                       their law firm counterparts. According to
To fully understand this trend, one                2. In-House Positions Require Attorneys to          a 2005 Corporate Counsel quality of life
needs to take a closer look at the factors         Take on Fewer Rainmaking Responsibilities.          survey, about 59% of attorneys working in
prompting a growing number of attorneys to                                                             law firms with more than 20 attorneys put
transition from law firms to in-house legal        As law firms enter an age of globalization,         in an average of more than 50 hours per
departments.                                       the escalating competition for clients and          week, with 28% working more than 60 hours
                                                   legal work, along with the pressures of             per week. However, only 36% of in-house
1. In-House Positions Afford Attorneys More        mounting billing rates and associate salaries,      lawyers reported that they worked more than
Opportunities to Play Active Roles in Their        has required attorneys to generate business         50 hours per week. A 50-hour workweek
Clients’ Business Decisions.                       sooner and faster. As a result, associates          may still seem long-except when compared
                                                   today are expected to both produce new              to a work week at a law firm where even
Most attorneys looking to transition into in-      business from existing clients and develop          more billable hours are required each week
house positions express interest in becoming       new client relationships on behalf of their         and business development is expected in
more involved in a single company’s overall        firms.                                              addition to billable time.
business. These attorneys also hold real
interest in working more closely with the          While there are attorneys who enjoy the             The reality is that in-house hours can
decision makers and exerting influence             rainmaking aspects of their practices, many         vary a great deal across companies,
beyond the legal arena. The obvious                lack the skills, predilection, or enthusiasm        industries, markets, and levels within a legal
advantage of working on behalf of only one         for business development. For the latter            department. There are large in-house legal
company, rather than servicing the needs           category, the chances of surviving and              departments involved in crisis management
of numerous companies, is that it offers the       thriving under current law firm models              and high-level transactions that average
opportunity to become more invested in that        remain slim, at best. The ability to effectively    hours comparable to those of large national
company’s business.                                develop business remains one of the main            law firms, and there are quieter departments
                                                   requirements used by law firms to elevate           at various levels of development that work
Today’s general counsel are engaged in             associates to partnerships, as well as to           significantly fewer hours than their law firm
partnering with their companies’ business          decide whether to retain current partners.          counterparts.
functions and facilitating the achievement of      In-house attorneys are exempt from the
business goals. For the majority of attorneys      pressures of developing new business; the           While many in-house attorneys find
who come from law firms, this represents           work and the clients are already there. As a        themselves working long hours, most
a major shift from “putting out fires” and         result, attorneys who prefer to focus on their      of them seem to agree that they have

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GCC NEWS FEATURE                                                                        1. 800.973.1177

achieved more balanced lifestyles. When       around the country, asking them about their     Given that the desire for career and family
pressed to explain this newfound balance,     hours, compensation, benefits, and abilities    balance is increasingly affecting our
these attorneys do not necessarily point      to juggle work and home. 82% of survey          decisions to change courses in our careers,
to reductions in hours but rather to the      respondents said they were “satisfied” or       it is safe to predict that the number of
predictability of their schedules. As a       even “very happy” with their jobs.              attorneys transitioning from law firms to in-
function of working for individual clients,                                                   house legal departments will likely continue
in-house attorneys experience more            Not surprisingly, our own survey revealed       to increase in the coming years.
schedule predictability than do their law     that more than 95% of the law firm attorneys
firm counterparts, each of whom serves        we placed in-house were “happy” to “very        ON THE NET
numerous clients at any one time; thus,       happy” with their decisions to practice in-
in-house attorneys tend to enjoy greatly      house and would look for other in-house         BCG Attorney Search
improved work/life balances.                  opportunities if they were to leave their
                                              current jobs. The attorneys we surveyed
The Reality of Moving In-House                also cited high levels of satisfaction due to   NALP
                                              the nature of their work, improved work/life
In the winter of 2005, Corporate Counsel      balance, and fewer pressures to generate
                                                                                              Corporate Counsel
surveyed about ,000 in-house lawyers         business.


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