Shanon Shumpert, In-house Attorney" alt="" src="https://www.lawcrossing.com/images/articleimages/Shanon-Shumpert.jpg" /> 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.
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 realized very quickly that private practice was not for me. I was always more interested in helping the client develop proactive strategies for avoiding litigation.
- What is the best part of working in-house?
It is personally gratifying to help support the business and to see your advice being put into practice. Most people assume that the hours are better for in-house attorneys (as opposed to private practice), but that is not always true. I still work long hours but it's a lot easier to balance, for some reason?? Probably because more corporations are seeking to help achieve a work/life balance for their employees. I'm not sure if that's ever a goal of law firms!
- What is the worst part of working in-house?
The worst part is that your clients have immediate access to you, and they use it! You can't eat in the cafeteria and you generally avoid any common areas, as your "client" will inevitably approach you with a question/concern. Also, since you are not "billing" them, your clients bring you all sorts of issues that they probably wouldn't if they were paying you by the hour.
- What advice would you give to others looking to work in-house?
It's generally easier to obtain a position if you have some other sort of work relationship with the company, i.e, via the Board, as a volunteer, as an external attorney, etc...
- What is a typical day like for you as an attorney working in-house?
A typical day involves lots of counseling on employment law related issues with various constituents throughout the organization. I am usually on the phone a lot and in a lot of meetings. I have direct contact with our external law firms and I manage their work and monitor their billing.
- What was your title/is your title in your [current] position in-house?
I have held a variety of titles, including Associate General Counsel for a major university and I am now, Director, Employee/Labor Relations for a large hospital system.
- How does your experience compare with your peers who chose other sorts of legal jobs?
I've been told that my experience is much more varied than my counterparts who work in law firms. For instance, I've had the benefit of working as part of internal and external law offices, and as part of corporate HR environments. Due to my in-house experience, the advice and counsel that I provide to my clients is a lot more practical than that we receive from our external lawyers. Because of my knowledge of the underlying business, I am able to help create solutions that work for us without impeding the business operations any more than necessary.
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