Whilst the traditional movement of lawyers has always been from private practice to in-house, we have certainly seen a trend in recent times of lawyers doing the reverse.
From a lawyer’s perspective, the reasons for such a move include career advancement, a desire to specialise, and the increasing flexibility of some law firms. From a law firm’s perspective, the opportunity to recruit from a relevant industry sector, the specialist knowledge gained and the resulting credibility with clients are some of the motivating factors for hiring lawyers from in-house.
The key for any lawyer contemplating such a move is to ensure that their technical experience and industry knowledge is closely aligned with the law firm they are considering. An ability to demonstrate real, hands-on technical experience that could prove invaluable working alongside a client is critical.
Similarly, it is important that you are able to demonstrate a highly developed understanding of the relevant industry sector and how this could benefit the firm from both a transactional and business development perspective. There is no doubt that firms do, however, have a preference for strong private practice backgrounds and you must be comfortable talking through the private practice experience you gained prior to moving in-house.
The key is striking that careful balance – your industry knowledge goes a long way but it must be backed up by the technical skills required of any private practice lawyer. Get that balance right and there is no reason why a move back into private practice can’t become a reality.