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The Life and Career of an In-House Attorney

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Are you overworked? Tired of stressing about your billable requirements? Dissatisfied with the level of responsibility you are given or the quality of your deals? Miss having a life outside of the law firm? Not confident in the ability to make partner at your law firm? Been daydreaming lately about finding the perfect in-house position?

Well, before you make that jump, it is very important to fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of being an in-house attorney because the decision to go in-house is a very serious one that could greatly affect your long-term career. Once you make the jump, it can be very difficult to return to private practice primarily because law firms will question your commitment to returning on a long-term basis. Thus, every effort should be made to ensure that your decision to go in-house is a well-informed one.

I practiced law for approximately 10 years, as both a law firm associate and an in-house attorney, and I wanted to share my experiences as an in-house attorney to help anyone thinking about going in-house understand the advantages and disadvantages of doing so before making that jump.

My Life as a Law Firm Associate

I was an associate in the Los Angeles office of an Am Law 50, New York-based law firm for approximately five years. My experience as a law firm associate was generally very positive for a variety of reasons: no minimum billable-hours requirement, top-of-the-market New York salary, significant responsibilities on sophisticated deals, and a collegial atmosphere. In addition, I was told I was on partnership track.

I had no interest in making a lateral move to another law firm. However, I knew for various reasons that I did not want to become a law firm partner. So, at the end of my fourth year, I decided that I should probably start seriously thinking about my long-term career plans.

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