We ask Andrew Taylor, private practice consultant, Naiman Clarke, whether working in-house actually all it's cracked up to be.
A: Surprisingly, I've seen more than one candidate in recent months who wants to make the move from an in-house position back to private practice. Don't get me wrong, we still have many a lawyer wanting the reverse, however the grass of in-house is proving for many not to been greener; in fact, astro turf may be a better description.
Surely, no billable hours, 'work life balance', and a culture 'that really values its employees' is enough to tempt any lawyer to the bright, "at the coal-face", bonus-laden world of being an In house Counsel. 9am starts will give you more than enough time to drop kids off at school, straighten your hair in the morning, and go for surf or a run? You'll be making time for yourself, 'eat pray love' and all? Or not.
The response to my question is simply that many in-house counsel miss being a lawyer. They miss the "job of lawyering" as it were. I probe further, "you don't feel like you are a lawyer in your current position"? The response, "well yes, I do, however a lot of my work is compliance focused, I miss the advice aspect; it's very satisfying providing people with advice, more-so when that advice is appreciated and respected".
Still not convinced I think that this lawyer's need to provide advice may be his vice. He elaborates, "don't get me wrong, I am the kind of person 'who runs to a new job, not runs away from one. I do like my job, it's just now I know what the client wants and I want to return to private practice to share this knowledge".
I am convinced. Others in similar situation have cited "variety of clients", being seen as the "roadblock" to deal making, and no longer being in the position of "trusted advisor" they once were when in private practice, as reasons to leave the holy grail of in-house.
Perhaps those lawyers contemplating a return to private practice should consider the fate of artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin made it to 'paradise', but it didn't end well. Moreover, think of all the sordid advice he could have given had he returned to Paris!