Mythbusting 3 Untruths About the In House Lifestyle

By Andrew Lu on October 01, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Becoming in house counsel is the Holy Grail for a lot of attorneys. The common perception is that you put in ten grueling years at a law firm, and then you can jump to a cushy in house position. But are these tales of leisure for in house counsel just myths?

To say that all in house lawyers work less hours and enjoy a better quality of life than their law firm counterparts would be untrue. Depending upon who you ask, in house counsels can have as many deadlines and work just as many hours as the associate at the largest firms.

Here are three common myths of in house counsel, and a more realistic set of expectations, as compiled by Corporate Counsel.

  1. You will be part of a team at a company. While you may be an executive and play a role in decision making of an organization, the reality is that in house counsel are usually all alone at a company. For example, at a law firm, you will have peers that you can bounce ideas off of and who understand legal issues you face. At a company, you're likely the only one who understands how you spend your time.
  2. Working at a company is the same as a law firm, only less hours. Even if your hours are less, the work at a company is usually nothing like the work at a law firm. As a law firm associate, you're typically trained to qualify everything with "may," "likely," "oftentimes," etc. But as in house counsel, you actually have to take a stand. Nobody cares about precedence and legal arguments. You have to actually advise your employer on affirmative steps to take.
  3. You'll be really appreciated at a company. In house counsel are oftentimes the bearer of bad news. You have to tell your boss when they're flying too high and taking too many risks. This happens a lot at start ups. Founders can be bent on taking one path and the last thing they want to hear is "no." So your voice won't always be appreciated.

In house counsel jobs are different from law firm positions. But the stereotype that in house counsel jobs are easier, may just be a myth.

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