We ask Olivia Harvey, an in-house consultant at Dolman, what lawyers should think about before they make the move to an in-house role.
Planning is, as always, the key to success. You should think about industry, organisation and team to ensure you find the right in-house role. Things to consider include:
Work: Generally, the smaller the in-house team the broader the advisory role. You will need to establish whether you prefer to specialise in one or two areas, such as becoming a specialised corporate/commercial lawyer, or whether you are better suited to a more general role advising on a wide variety of legal issues.
Team structure: Many in-house teams are smaller than those within private practice. Therefore careful consideration must be given to the kind of networks needed to support the transition into what is often a broader legal role. The larger the team the greater the support network available. Ask yourself, 'Do I operate better within a larger team environment or as sole legal counsel?'
Level: Many in-house teams have relatively flat structures. In smaller in-house teams, career progression can depend on the person in a managerial or general counsel position vacating their role. In these instances, it is especially important at the outset to consider at what level you enter the organisation because once in the role, career progression may be difficult to negotiate.
Industry: Look to your existing client relationships and any secondment experience to ascertain which industry your skills are most aligned with. The more time dedicated to mapping out your preferred industry, the more time there is to establish valuable industry networks.
With many organisations keeping more complex work in-house, the role of an in-house lawyer has become more sophisticated, making it more important than ever to consider your ideal in-house role well ahead of making the move.