Perspective: Working In-House
(The answer is no)
During my time at law school, the firm environment was the career path predominantly discussed. Paralegal roles, clerkships, graduate programs… everything seemed to centre on the firm.
After completing a placement at a mid-tier firm in the City during my penultimate year, I knew law was for me but I couldn’t shake the feeling that firm life wasn’t. I hadn’t expected it but decided to try and find something else that fit within the law but outside the traditional mould.
Fast forward two years and my work ended up providing me with a platform to move to a different side of the business as a graduate lawyer. My initiation was swift – I was tasked with completing contract reviews on Day 1. By the end of my first week, I had presented to the full marketing team on misleading and deceptive advertising and other regulations. About a week after that I took on managing a portfolio of 50 leases (and thus began my love for all things indemnity).
As a legal counsel for a multinational corporation, I can be involved in advice and transactions running anywhere from consumer law to distribution, privacy, acquisitions and everywhere in between. I like to compare it to an exotic smorgasbord – I have a tasty pick of matters from Singapore, Dubai, New Zealand… the list (sushi) rolls on. The variety and constant challenges in new areas of the law are what I thrive on. In-house lawyers also get to flex outside of the law, and may assist in company secretarial duties and initiatives to cut costs or time to access legal services. I like to call it ‘cheerleading efficiency’.
Now, you might be thinking that this all sounds pretty peachy. But what about the hours? You expect to work long hours as a lawyer, and being in house is no exception. However, the flexibility is definitely better. As I’m an early riser, I’m in the office not long after sunrise, and leave with a little daylight left to satisfy me. Calls with the US are frequently booked early in the mornings, and Europe comes after dinner, with plenty of time for mind-calming yoga (or vegging on the couch for a Netflix marathon) in the early evenings.
I haven’t seen many cons so far. Sure, you might miss out on some of the rigors and intense supervision that comes with graduate rotations in a firm. You likely won’t be the pre-eminent legal leader on tax. However, you will gain invaluable experience with stakeholders at all levels of a business, you’ll learn that ‘no’ isn’t an option (but alternative solutions are always welcomed), and there will be access to a never-ending supply of varied legal matters and projects. I couldn’t be happier after my first year, and though I’m a little tired, I’m keen to get stuck into year 2. If you are like me and aren’t sure if firm life suits you, see whether there are any opportunities as a paralegal in-house. You might be pleasantly surprised.
*name has been changed.
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