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Working as an in-house attorney has both pros and cons, just like any other attorney. Some of the pros include have more control on the projects you work on and having corporate benefits that other types of attorneys don't get. Some of the cons include long hours and often being required to work during weekends in order to help with legal projects in the company.
In-house attorneys enjoy various benefits that private practice attorneys don't have. That being said, there are some downsides to becoming an in-house attorney. While they often have more control over the projects they work on and receive corporate benefits, they also are often required to work long hours which can make it hard to take time off. All in all, you should definitely consider becoming an in-house attorney if it looks like the right fit for you.
Why did you decide to work in a corporate legal department?
I worked in-house because I was a co-founder of a global technology and financial services start-up company that had a lot of complex domestic and cross border financial regulation issues and it made sense for me to build an in-house team to address these issues. In addition to the company's core proprietary product, it also has a global advisory service group. As much as I enjoy in-house work, when I miss working with external clients in different markets, I support the work of the global advisory service group, where I advice financial institutions and regulators on innovation in payment systems.
What is the best part of working in-house?
The best part of working in-house is the way your work is directly connected to the tangible goals of your client, the company. You are a member of the core team; you can't give advice and leave. You also can't be dismissed by other team members once you've given legal advice. You get to stay and struggle through things and make them work, which is incredibly rewarding.
What is the worst part of working in-house?
The flip side of the best part of working in-house is the hardest part of working in-house: because you are a member of the core team, you are in a real sense your own client. And you know what they say about lawyers who have themselves as their own client. It can be tough to maintain proper perspective and professional judgment. That's where external counsel can be helpful.
What advice would you give to others looking to work in-house?
Pick a sector or industry focus that you really care about and want to grow in to. When you are in-house, particularly in smaller companies, your responsibilities will often go far beyond your traditional legal advisory obligations.
What is a typical day like for you as an attorney working in-house?
You touch many different issues every day. But there is a consistency to your work; it is all connected at a strategic level to the interests of the company. And being in the company, you get to see that bigger picture. It makes work easier to understand and more rewarding.
What was your title/is your title in your [current] position in-house?
How does your experience compare with your peers who chose other sorts of legal jobs?
I have a much more diverse skill set and have grown into business operations and management, which I enjoy.
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