What’s luring in-house lawyers back to private practice?

By Emma Ryan|28 May 2019
Lisa Gazis and Katherine Sampson

A new report has identified the key reasons more senior in-house lawyers are making the switch back to private practice.

According to Mahlab’s latest Roundtable Briefing, there are an increasing number of senior in-house legal professionals electing to return to private practice, citing career advancement opportunities and increased remuneration as among their key motivations.

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“Many lawyers in today’s legal landscape commence their careers in private practice and then, once they’ve reached a certain level of experience, take their career in-house and challenge themselves in a corporate environment where they can escape billable hours, work closely and as part of an organisation, and contribute to its strategic direction,” said Mahlab’s managing directors Lisa Gazis (NSW) and Katherine Sampson (VIC).

“The transition back into private practice from a corporate environment is less common and comes with many of its own challenges.”

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Other key motivators for making the switch back include the “opportunity to refresh, sharpen and hone legal skills”, which was deemed more attractive in private practice, and the notion that “the flat structure of in-house was fine to a point, but the lack of support and ability to mentor more junior lawyers made career progression more challenging”.

“In particular, participants observed that law firms are now much more commercially-focused, which can be attractive during negotiations to return,” the Mahlab managing directors noted.

“However, some participants also noted that the commercial piece could easily be lost among the drive for billables and meeting budget targets.

“... Ultimately, lawyers must make the right decision for them given their unique set of motivations, whether that be career progression, professional development or personal reasons,” they said.

What’s luring in-house lawyers back to private practice?
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