For the new in-house lawyer who’s just starting, the future is exciting. With a rigorous academic background and plenty of practical training, this is the time to discover a different work-life balance - but one where the sole client is right outside the office door. To make the switch successfully takes a unique set of skills - oh, and a few basics you may have to chase in your first week - like a laptop!
Doing more with less
Resources may be fewer at your new company. That instant access to all the latest tools you had at your top law firm may take a bit of persuading when companies see the legal department as a cost.
But it’s worth getting to grips with accounting for your spending, despite not working with billable hours anymore. Although contrary to this, you could also find yourself in long, seemingly pointless presentation meetings too - so, swings and roundabouts!
Going it alone
Some in-house lawyers step into a large legal department within a big international firm led by a General Counsel. In those instances, it’s not too different from a large law firm with a support network of other lawyers around you and simple instructions of what to do with your time. But if you’re the sole in-house lawyer or working with a small team, this is your chance to get to know other people within different departments in the business.
The more you know how everyone works, the more you can make yourself and your skills known and become a valuable asset to the firm. Also, there’s nothing to stop you reaching out to other in-house lawyers at different firms as a social and networking opportunity.
This is your time to take control and seize the freedom an in-house legal role really offers. Non-lawyer colleagues may not fully understand what you know and what you don’t - and you may not feel like much of a generalist lawyer yet, but now is the time to learn.
Chase information, find answers to questions, and maybe learn what the questions need to be in the first place. You no longer simply advise people on what the law is then sit back as they decide what to do. You’re now an active player in the business operations with valuable influence, so a risk averse approach won’t always work.
Get up from behind that desk
If you’re just starting out as an in-house lawyer this is your time to be inquisitive, work out the hierarchy, and get to know who people are and what they do. The other obvious thing to do (but many admit they need to do more of) is really getting to know the business sector you’re working in and the company’s place in it. This prepares you for those times when those legal contracts have to hold their ground when things get tough.
So, get stuck in and enjoy the ride, because being an in-house lawyer is a role you can really make your own and thrive in if you seize the opportunities it offers.
JMC specialises in in-house legal recruitment jobs for lawyers. We can help you find General Counsel vacancies, Head of Legal jobs, and in-house legal counsel roles, in Manchester, Bristol, London and across the UK. If you’re wondering ‘what is an in-house lawyer?’ and if your company needs one, or you’re a graduate wondering how to become an in-house lawyer, we can help. We have top in-house legal jobs with big salaries to match, so call us today for confidential in-house recruitment job advice on 0203 865 2113 or click here for more information.