find the latest legal job
Inhouse Legal Counsel -18 months-4 PAE - Real Estate Investment Company
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· In brand new prestigious CBD offices
View details
Senior Associate - Competition, Policy & Regulatory
Category: Other | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Work with a well regarded Partner · Sydney CBD
View details
Commercial Litigation Senior Associate
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Lawyers Weekly Australia Partner of the Year 2016, Insolvency
View details
MULTIPLEX Regional Legal Counsel (Vic) | 7 to 10 years + PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Career defining in-house role · Tier One international contractor
View details
Junior Lawyer - Personal Injury Law
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Parramatta & Western Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Highly specialized practice · Challenging role with great opportunities
View details
My next move: I am seeking to move from in-house back to private practice – will firms want me?

My next move: I am seeking to move from in-house back to private practice – will firms want me?

Many candidates tell us that a move in-house is not necessarily the panacea it once was.

Many candidates tell us that a move in-house is not necessarily the panacea it once was.

Ten years ago moving in-house was an opportunity for lawyers to work fewer hours, usually for bigger dollars, and what they might have missed in black-letter law they would make up in being closer to ‘the business’. 

Over the last decade the role of in-house counsel has changed and there would be few legal teams that are not asked to become increasingly accountable for external legal spend. The increased accountability, greater regulatory environment and market conditions have meant that more work has been kept in-house and in-house lawyers will these days work similar hours to their private practice counterparts. The various business units that might rely on the legal team to move deals and contracts through at speed are equally under pressure to produce revenue, adding even more weight to the shoulders of in-house counsel.

With in-house roles no longer being the answer to moving away from six-minute units, a good number of in-house lawyers have returned to private practice. For a successful move back into private practice the trick seems to be several-fold. Firstly, don’t dilute the specialist skill-set you once had. If you were a property lawyer for six years and then spent the next four years being a generalist commercial in-house counsel, you may not be able to return to private practice as a 10-year property lawyer. By all means, some broadening of skill-set is not a bad thing, but getting too broad or completely away from the skills you developed in private practice won’t assist you moving back to private practice. 

Equally, time seems to be relevant. Three to four years out of private practice appears manageable for firms. Brand will also count. Experience in a blue-chip corporate will always be viewed more favourably than equally good experience in an organisation that is less known. 

Finally, to the extent possible, make sure your title has ‘legal’ or ‘counsel’ in it if you worked in a legal role within a corporate. Titles like ‘contracts manager’ or ‘analyst’ don’t resonate with firms and will make things more difficult for a move back to private practice.

There are, of course, exceptions, and the market often sees experienced general counsels joining a firm as partner. But what they usually bring to the table is their former employer becoming a client of the firm or an opportunity to strengthen an existing client relationship.


Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

My next move: I am seeking to move from in-house back to private practice – will firms want me?
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Animal law moots, advocacy, Melbourne University, Australia and New Zealand Intervarsity Moot on Animal Law
Sep 25 2017
Moot unleashes animal advocacy
Melbourne has played host to one of the largest animal law moots, with student participants put th...
Scales
Sep 25 2017
Transgender teens should not need legal approval for hormone treatment, court hears
A transgender 17-year-old known as Kelvin has appealed in the Family Court against the requirement o...
Appointed, Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
Sep 25 2017
NFP CEO appointed Victorian Legal Services Commissioner
The CEO of a Victorian not-for profit pro bono legal services provider has been named as the state...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...