With Chris Meharg, senior consultant, Naiman Clarke
A As a recruiter for in-house positions, I know the majority of my clients are looking for someone who is not "just a black letter lawyer". They want a candidate who can demonstrate they have the commercial acumen to give advice on the spot that takes into account legal and regulatory considerations as well as the company's commercial situation and appetite for risk.
The perceived problem with candidates who have only worked in private practice is they are often seen as giving advice in a vacuum which may be correct legally, but useless commercially.
The solution is to try to demonstrate your commerciality, the depth of your client relationships and understanding of your client's business. Also, it is important that you do thorough research on the company you are interviewing with.
Employers dislike candidates who just want an in-house job rather than a role within their company. By talking about the particular issues that affect their company you can demonstrate that you understand some of the real world problems they face and have done your research.
At the job interview, don't talk about hating billable hours as your motivation for leaving private practice. Firstly, some in house clients have billable hours and secondly, you should always talk about positive reasons for the move (wanting to work closer with the business, looking for a more dynamic culture etc).