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Advice on in-house offer
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Posted - 08 May 2015 09:44
Does anyone use the training board anymore?!?!?!

Anyway, I would very much appreciate some guidance on (a nice) dilemma.

I have been given the nod that I will be offered an NQ job at my training firm and at the same time, I have also been offered an in house role elsewhere (don't really want to go into too many details).

I really don't know which way to turn as they are wholly different prospects. The main thing that I am concerned about is if I want to go back to private practice in the future, will I be prejudiced by having gone in house at such a junior stage? Do private practice lawyers turn their nose up at their in-house brethren? If anyone has any experience and can also suggest other things that I should think about I would be extremely grateful.
Roscoe P. Coltrane
Posted - 08 May 2015 13:52
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Many PP lawyers do turn their nose up at in-housers if they are not seen as having spent enough time "at the coal face".

Why would you want to come back to PP, though?

If you want to be in PP, be in it now (while you're young) and save in-house for later (when you may want more time with kids/wife etc).

Also, good to prove your training firm wanted you by staying on at least 6 months.
Posted - 08 May 2015 19:24
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I don't agree with Roscoe's last para at all. Who gives a fcuk if they leave now or in 6 months? Either can be explained away at interview.

From personal experience, a bad in-house roles is a bazillion times worse than a bad pp role (same crap, more monotony, more arse-covering in the absence of billables to prove your apparent value, less ££). So I would tread very carefully and do plenty of dd on why this in-house team is hiring and what life will be like there.

A grim view I know, but my two in-house secondments basically made me want to leave the profession.
Posted - 09 May 2015 14:02
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From what I have seen (and heard) it can also be harder to get promoted starting as an NQ in house vs coming in at a higher level at 4-5pqe or so.
Posted - 10 May 2015 14:27
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Yes, some PP lawyers may turn their noses up at you. Others will look at the different skills you have developed working in-house and think them beneficial. There's no one right answer here. You can, however, shape how people perceive you — to an extent, at least — through how you portray yourself. If, at the time you come to move back to PP, your CV shows someone who spent the last three years shovelling work back to PP and passing on their answers to your clients, with no real development of legal skills, you might struggle.

If, conversely, it demonstrates that you have a real aptitute for working with "the business" and giving them timely, pragmatic and highly commercial legal advice, tackling some tricky legal issues in such a way that your colleagues never had to worry about them, then you sound like a good hire.

Bear in mind that most people like to think that they are the best, or, at least, very good, at what they do. PP lawyers have often said to me words to the effect of "you won't be a good lawyer, technically speaking, if you go in-house too early — only PP lawyers can do that." And you'll find in-house lawyers who will complain how all PP lawyers lack commercial awareness and cannot give you a straight answer as to the best approach to take. While these will be undoubtedly true in some cases, they are generalisations, and you'll find technically great lawyers working in-house and highly commercial, pragmatic lawyers working in PP.

any experience

Personally: I trained in-house and enjoy it. I don't think that that means I'm a poor lawyer technically (although, see above; I might be), and I would hope that it would not be too much of a struggle if I did want to work for a law firm one day. Although it doesn't tempt me at all.

Friends of mine trained in-house and then moved to PP (in my view, to decent firms too). Others started in PP, moved in-house, and moved back to law firms; of those, all are now partners. Others have moved between companies around the world, enjoying the travelling opportunities. Some moved from PP, found it was not for them and moved back to PP very quickly — with seemingly no detriment to their careers.

other things that I should think about

You are qualified — congratulations! — and have a lot to learn. Will the in-house team be able to support you in that? Will you have supervision, and someone to turn to when you have questions? What resources are available to you? Will you get to do legal work and develop your legal skills, or will you be a letterbox between clients and external lawyers?

What opportunities exist for promotion — usually harder in-house than in PP? Are you going to be doing everything, or will it be a niche role — if so, can you move out of that niche, should you want to, in future?

Where do you want to be in 10 years, or even five? How does this role help you get closer to that place?
Posted - 14 May 2015 10:10
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I wrote a reply and then it got deleted :-(.

Thanks for the high quality replies - really great advice.

I am a career changer, so I am perhaps looking at this with a slightly different view.

I have been on secondment for nearly a year (on and off) and know the business well. I would be responsible for my own self development (in terms of planning it), but given I am coming at this not as a fresh faced graduate, that is actually quite liberating. There is a the prospect of working closely with a lot of very good panel firms, which since I have been there have always been on hand to guide and assist. This is, I appreciate, not quite the same 'at the coal face' experience as in PP, but potentially valuable down the line if I wanted to move to said firms. Throw into the mix that the people are fantastic and the work is often incredibly satisfying and varied. I also get listened to despite my junior status which is also satisfying. Prospects of promotion are a total unknown, but there is latitude to assist in developing new parts of the business and potentially take shares in any such ventures. chargeable hours!!!!

The prospect at my firm is working in a team where one partner in particular treats me well and has to some extent treated me like a protégé, which has been great. The hours are so so, pay so so. The work is generally high quality. There is however a very very heavy atmosphere in the team and a lot of the team often dump on the juniors - which has resulted in a high junior turn over. Generally, everyone gives the impression they are miserable and this does affect me I admit. Prospects of promotion internally are not great as the targets are set outrageously high given the salary offering.

I feel like therefore I am choosing between the risky exciting prospect and the safe option. I feel like the former may set me apart in a couple of years if I really pay close attention to my professional development, whilst the latter, whilst safe, won't.

The above comments are so useful and I am going to use them to put some questions together to ask both so I know what I am getting myself into.
Posted - 14 May 2015 17:38
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I moved in-house at NQ and never looked back (3ys PQE now). However, I accept that there are myriad factors to consider so I wouldn't neccessarily rush to advise you to follow in my footsteps.

I should add that I was also a slightly older trainee, although not much older. - Qualified age 28.

The main thing I would say is don't be scared. Do what excites you most and don't be too worried about which option is "safest". It sounds like both options are pretty blo*dy good tbh.

If you want to provide further info on the jobs etc in a private message, feel free. I will try to share any wisdom I may have accordingly...
Posted - 15 May 2015 09:16
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The way you describe it, A_B_, it strikes me that you would have a far more enjoyable life — which is important — working in the in-house role.

If the only thing holding you back is a (sensible enough) concern about whether you might be able to go back to PP in future, do bear in mind too that you may sacrifice opportunities by not going in-house now: consider not only losing what you have, which, for most lawyers, I suspect is the natural thing to consider, but also what you would fail to gain if you did not make the move.
Posted - 16 May 2015 01:18
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It sounds like in-house is the way to go for you given the circs - YOLO!