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In-House Counsel: Life in the Corporate Wing

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Few television shows or Hollywood flicks glamorize the work of the in-house attorney. Corporate legal departments have long been a haven for law-firm refugees-established lawyers who are willing to take a pay cut in return for more reasonable hours. And the work doesn't make for gripping courtroom drama: In-house counsel are often viewed as administrators who facilitate the outsourcing of most of the company's legal work but do little of it themselves.
 
In-House Counsel: Life In The Corporate Wing


Click Here to Read BCG Attorney Search’s Guide to Corporate and Finance Job Search Categories for More Information.

But if you think corporate counseldom is a cushy but dull job for the suburban set, you haven't looked inside a company lately. With the advancement of technology, many companies are relying more heavily on in-house counsel to take on a broader, strategic role, which in many cases means more substantial work, greater responsibilities, and longer hours. These days, attorneys' reasons for taking the corporate path are changing, as new challenges and opportunities arise.

Bye-Bye, Burnout
Why take an in-house counsel gig? "Today, the most important attractor is the depth of practice," says Joseph Pattison, associate general counsel for FMC Corporation, a global chemical business based in Philadelphia. "You get closure on issues. You are there from the beginning. You get to see the results of your work."

The ability to offer practice variety gives corporations a hiring advantage over law firms. Because there is a trend in law firms toward specialization, there are consequently fewer and fewer general commercial practitioners. In corporations, says Pattison, the lawyer has more opportunity to experience a much broader range of issues. Such diverse work tends to alleviate boredom and prevent burnout.

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Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives


Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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About Harrison Barnes

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