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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 governance or corporate risk management department?
I managed the corporate governance or corporate risk management departments of companies because it was challenging and provided a mix of legal, strategy, governance and accounting issues. You get to work on a broader range of issues and transactions when working in-house in these functions - which was also a good opportunity to see the practical aspects of many of the articles and the book that I had written and published.
What is the best part of working in-house in a corporate governance or corporate risk management?
I was not an in-house lawyer, but I worked on transactions from the owners' point of view, which is very different from working as an external advisor. Issues pertaining; to risk, operations, accountability, perceived performance, effects on employee motivation and internal politics become very real when you work in-house. In-house jobs in Corporate Governance or Corporate Risk management (both of which require some legal knowledge) is usually more stable than working at consulting firms or law firms.
What is the worst part of working in-house?
There are always issues of goal congruence, and internal politics.
What advice would you give to others looking to work in-house in corporate governance and or corporate risk management?
An increasing number of lawyers are choosing to work in in-house corporate governance and or corporate risk management departments. The corporate governance and corporate risk management departments are sometimes located within the Internal Audit Group, or in the General Counsel's Group or within the CFO's group or as an independent department. It's useful to get some experience as in-house corporate governance staff or in-house attorney. It provides other opportunities for transition into other careers in finance, marketing, operations, corporate risk management and even to COO and CEO positions. The increase in regulation around the world means that more companies will need lawyers that are business savvy and operating executives that have legal backgrounds
What is a typical day like for you as corporate governance or corporate risk management officer working in-house?
It's typically busy and a mix of meetings; drafting/review of agreements, internal negotiations with senior executives; strategy sessions and accounting/financial analysis.
What was your title/is your title in your prior position in-house?
I was an Executive Vice President of Corporate Risk management and Strategic Planning (we did not have an in-house lawyer and outsourced some legal work).
How does your experience compare with your peers who chose other sorts of legal jobs?
It really depends on one's career objectives and timing. It's somewhat difficult to compare among people that have different criteria for job satisfaction, and different career objectives.
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