What to Expect as a New In House Counsel

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Avoiding Big Law? Running from Big Law? Not so fast. Just because you're tired of working long hours for partners who don't appreciate your brilliance, doesn't mean a job as in house counsel won't make you plain old tired.

Going in-house can offer a lot of benefits (read: normal hours), but it may not offer the kind of legal work you're looking for. An overwhelming amount of the practice involves the two C's: contracts and compliance.

For those working on contracts, expect hours of poring over intricate language, negotiations, revisions, and shredder bins full of paper. Those who work in compliance probably won't even get the human interaction a contracts attorney will. Well, unless they've got you on governmental affairs, too.

Attorneys seeking something a little bit sexier might be in luck. At the right company, there are often opportunities to specialize in intellectual property (including copyright and trademark law), employment law, environmental law, and litigation. And for those of you who want to boss around that evil ex-partner? You may even get a chance to "manage" outside counsel.

As legal fees skyrocket, more and more companies are bringing work in-house. Matters normally attended to by outside counsel are now being handled by company lawyers, giving new in house counsel a chance to experience a myriad of practice areas, including mergers and acquisitions, antitrust, and tax. But keep in mind that even these practice areas come with reams of paper.

So, the answer to what you should expect when going in-house?

A lot of paperwork, that's what.

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