Why do people work in-house?
  • Paid less than private practice
  • your hours aren’t necessarily that much better
  • get bossed around by idiots
  • It’s all noddy work and everything more complicated gets farmed out to law firms

e.g you leave at 5PQE to work in asset management. You’re on now maybe 100k, when you would have been on 150-200k. You still work from 9-7 most days as opposed to 9-9. Wow you’ve shaved 2 hours off. You could have just moved to a smaller law firm.

i don’t get it

I am very humble. I don’t think I am the smartest person in the room, but I earn so much more and work about the same as other people. Doesn’t make sense.

so many on this forum work in house and I am sure they are bright in their own way. I don’t understand why they have sought to earn fractions of what I do. Maybe working from home? But that has now changed.

People like different things.

I never thought I’d want to work in house and then, when I did for a short while, I knew I was right, long term. I learned from it but it wasn’t for me. If I’m going to be a lawyer, I want to work in an organisation where lawyers are the business.

Each to their own

Fvck me, this is the lamest, most half-arsed repetitive poster we've had in a while.

Life isn’t all about cash for some of us.  I could earn more but have enough to pay for the things I enjoy so why bother with the extra stress.

I work with nice people and I was able to leverage a commercial "fix it" role where I combine legal and commercial skills. I get varied work, a flexible employer ( I currently take 3 hours off in the day to do a 10km dog walk) I am well rewarded and...unlike private practice we're usually all pulling in the same direction.

It's as if the stupidest bits of dollahat and ebitda were cloned, fused together to create a single person, who was then banged repeatedly on the head before being set loose on the board.

The hours are definitely an improvement ime. 9 - 7 with a constant flow of work as opposed to 7am - midnight for weeks on end interspersed with periods with feck all to do except worry and try to look busy.

We didn't send anything out - and there are idiots in private practice too.

 

 

 

 

Obviously there’s a little bit of winding up going on here to pull an audience, but it is genuinely asked.

Jones, that seems extreme even for a US firm. Why not just go to a TaylorWessing? That has to be more of a 9-7.

Dogwarden, you seem to be genuinely happy with your job and have an odd sort of hybrid role which doesn’t commonly go to market. Most people do general corporate or funds work and it seems very dull. The odd litigation in house guys seem like glorified privacy monitors.

I used to work in PP in Corporate Finance. Whilst there, I went on secondment to two investment banks and would tend to agree with the OP's points above as regards in house in finance vs PP to a degree. If you work in house in industry, tech or commerce, the hours are much better and the ridiculous expectation that you're always available for work largely goes away. Yes the pay is lower but for those of us with other priorities, whether it's taking care of kids or interests that couldn't be pursued in parallel with a full throttle PP legal career, that trade off can be well worth it. 

I can believe it was genuinely asked the first time. Ever diminishing returns from then on.

Biggie dear it's not extreme at all. If you're a transactional lawyer, 7am - midnight isn't that bad. I was lucky to never do an all nighter though plenty of my weekends were messed up.

"It’s all noddy work and everything more complicated gets farmed out to law firms"

 

nope

Working in private practice has a lot in common with being a prostitute. You get charged out to clients by the hour, and the more hours you do, the richer your bosses get. 

The only way it could conceivably be "worth it" is if you become a partner one day. But the chances are you won't, and you'll have wasted your best years. 

I remember being a young, innocent trainee talking to a senior associate. When I said I didn't know whether I'd want to be a partner, he said quite bluntly, "Well why are you here then? If you don't want to be a partner one day then there is no point working like this."

So I thought about it for a bit and realised he was right. And then I looked at the partners for a while and realised that most of them looked haggard and thoroughly miserable, except perhaps some of the more old school male ones who had a stay at home wife ensuring that they didn't have to lift a finger in their personal lives. Anyway, there were no partners either at my firm or who I came into contact with otherwise whose lives I envied. So there was no point staying in private practice. 

I work in-house and your points 1 to 4 are all wrong, apart from 3 which you could argue about anywhere.

Cheers for the observation, though.

I used to get home at 5(pm) when I went to the office and I probably make MC counsel money. I think I might have worked 3 weekends in over 10 years and even that was my choice.

Some of the work is certainly technically drossier but you are closer to it than the external advisers whose lack of commercial understanding even at MC partner level is sometimes quite surprising. But then some people like that distance. 

The big killer of in-house is career progression as you generally need to stop being a lawyer to progress and dead men's shoes can last for decades. I guess it's similar to the associate/ counsel plateau in PP though so the trade-off is either do "high quality work" or get home at 5.

9-7?

I didn't even work those hours in PP. Mind you, that's maybe why I failed at it. More a 10-4 man myself (3.30 on Fridays).

Of course, what I don’t factor in is that somebody will always pop onto these threads to justify their career choices, no matter how obvious the wind up. Crack on.

The OP has a good point. A lot of people give up on PP before trying to find a niche in it that works for them.

Ive been paid 200k+ p/a for about a decade (and actually quite a bit more some years) - with a (very) few bursts of busyness and stress - but generally working 10-7 and coming and going as I please.

Its not a bad life really and if I ever get the chop I have enough contacts/experience to go independent and do pretty well.

At the same time, as much law gets taken in house, I have the sense that there are some properly tough in house roles with a requirement to be in a London office (which financially is VV bad) and limits on career progression.

And some of these in FS now come with CF 10/11 and SMF functions - in a world where compliance is a barrier to entry and business and/or totally unaffordable to properly and most people havent realised that - so there is a a whole pile of personal risk if you end up having to take that on. No ta.

Happy exploring different ways to make money out of PP thanks.

I can't work out whether Biggie is a wind-up merchant or just very ... young.

Get paid more than most PP partners with much less of a ceiling and more career progression. 

More influence than I would in PP.

Do a massive range of things.  

Home by 7 every night while the PP lawyers are beginning their drafting.  

Yep, tough choice Biggie. 

 

 

 

I worked roughly half the hours my other half in private practice did for about 12K less on the p60 overall (I make just less than 120 and shes more like 130, bonuses i actually got a K more than her lolz) 

The amount of time and less stress i gained for that 10K less is humongous - i have a path to the next bracket up from my current one at my current shop (large financial services provider) good appraisals and a solid bonus last year. 

In reality, unless I wanted to go for MD (where the stress starts getting back to private practice levels) I could peak out with over 150K sally plus bonus as a D, decent pension etc. while still having flexible working arrangements and not dying (apart from a few small periods you have to throw your body in the breach, but they pay me enough to make me do that). 

To me a higher paying in-house role is the goldielocks zone - you are not super rich but you are definitely time rich for the money you have (and if you are in a dual income household with both of you on north of 6 figs you definately feel rich at that point - its a better life than being a junior partner at a silver type shop on 300K with a house wife and no time). 

I realised pretty early in my career that the extra cash that comes with partnership doesn't make up for the extra crap that comes with the job.

My experience has been it is a myth that in-house is paid worse than private practice.

 

I started out in pp, went in-house, went back to pp (huge mistake), went in-house, went into a non-law job, went in-house then non law job at the same business, then set up on my own.

 

The pp roles always paid the least (apart from this year which has sucked donkey balls).

Counsel (US) amd salaried partner (second tier) for most of the time. Not saying more than that. I think the point is theres more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. Lot of lawyers get on the treadmill and see no other way to do things other charge time.

Lots of great in house roles too. Its just theres some stinkers as well. Was talking to a GC at an global alts place the other day. Get the impression they work v hard and prob not on more than 150/200. Theyve been back in the office since June. So u can imagine the culture really.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think some of us may be talking at cross purposes.

if you take a firm like Kennedy’s in London, the value proposition of going in house is high. Kennedy’s pay peanuts - maybe 100k to a senior associate at 6 PQE. There are city firms which pay less.

i am referring to your Osborne Clarke, Taylor Wessing, Travers, MacFarlanes which work their people around a 9-7, 9-8 and pay quite a bit more than the in house roles

and the in house roles I’m talking about are top end like funds which pay the most and still pay less

big corporates pay less than funds it seems

 

I know people in house who work crazy hours and get about 120+bonus

I just think ‘why’

Equally I think the same about litigators from Herbert Smith or Gibson who go to work at high street boutiques earning peanuts but still having to churn through pretty chunky hours

Yesterday (Saturday) the front office and external lawyers did a call with the other side then the external lawyers marked up the docs.

I will have a 20 min catch up with counsel on Monday to see if anything interesting happened.

Unfortunately I couldn’t join the call because I was in a rural swimming pool with my kids (there was 1 other family there) and we were practicing diving and jumping in (depending on age).

You don’t work every weekend in private practice and being forced to live in the regions a million miles from a Pret is really troublesome 

I broadly agree with u biggie. I think the in house less hours/almost the same dolla paradigm is a learning many people have taken from early in their careers. It may have been true 10 yrs ago. Not sure it is any more. 

But theres a lot of variety out there - both ihouse/pp. It is a gloriously illiquid market once you get good at a few bits.

Biggie what type of funds are you on about ? 
 

Our GC earns significantly more than the figures you are quoting, especially when his / her carry crystallises . He rarely works more than 40 hours a week .

Biggie m8 no offence - and I enjoyed your work on the dating thread - but here you just sound like a recruiter (and one that hasn't been in practice himself) - who's trying to understand what different career paths are like by making some daft assertions and waiting for people to counter them. 

if you’re worried about how much money you’re earning it simply means you don’t have  enough.

What ebidta said. Biggie you are frankly talking total bollox. 

Depends on the role in the fund and depends on the fund, but generally you do get a lot of senior legal counsel working long hours and being paid about 120k+ bonus which is about 20-30%. There are some senior legal counsel who earn about that and manage to clock off around 6 too.

Re GCs earning subnormal amounts and working 40 hours a week, not sure if they really are just working 40 hours or if that is your perception, but unicorns exist. If you enter as an  at an MD at a mega fund between 7-9 PQE from a great firm, you can be earning close to what you earnt in private practice with fewer hours, but these positions are not the norm. Also quite a lot of people go in-house between 3-5 and get stuck in the bureaucracy finding it hard to progress. Yes, I am also aware of people who entered as juniors or mid levels and worked their way up. These people exist too. But it's far from guaranteed and often a product of an underdeveloped legal function in the first instance which then grew out as the firm / fund grew.

I am far from an expert on in-house - these are my observations from colleagues and clients. I often guess what clients are on - somewhat accurately.

I expect the main reason most people go in house is perfectly illustrated by the weeping helmets on this thread.

Biggie what on earth are you talking about , what type of fund , what asset classe(s) 

Even the largest funds be they RE, PE, HF with 100 billion plus AUM with offices globally, tend not to have hide IH departments . Your position is confused and is not based on any evidence . Have you worked as a GC or senior legal counsel in any of the type of funds I mentioned?

put simply if you are going to take out of PP a 8 year PQE body who is on the cusp of partnership , or maybe even a junior partner , they will almost certainly require more cash (ultimately), more interesting work, better work life, greater autonomy, etc, etc . They may forgo some of the above , but not much 

Not sure if you were able to process the nuances in the above post, but it is too painful to engage again mate

I was referring to juniors/mid-levels who have progressed to very senior positions in-house relatively painlessly - they have usually done so at funds which have grown in size over time, rather than at the mega funds - those who have gone there usually find progression harder and more bureaucratic

An 8PQE on the cusp of making partner isn't making partner so they go in-house. They almost always make a lot less. There are some positions, as I explained, if they are coming from a top US firm to a client where they can come in as MD and make about as much as their senior associate earnings.

And also a GCs remit is much wider than executing legal work or external supervision of “panel” firms .

Generally the proposition is i) less money; ii) similarish hours (to a Taylor Wessing, Osborne Clarke); iii) more tedious work. Particularly for those coming in between 3-5 PQE. If you can steal a super position as a lateral senior associate, you are very lucky, but for the most part they pay a lot less and have you work hard for your keep.

Ok biggie , our GC was 8 years OQE when he joined and was a junior newly admitted partner. 
 

he earns more than he did as a salaried /very junior FSP with more autonomy, wider remit , less bureaucracy, less hours .  His junior his 4 years qualified and also earns more . And our fund is certainly no Blackstone , TPG, KKR

Depends on the firm they joined from - surprised you know this personal information from a non-legal function. Salaries partners can earn anything from 150-300 depending on the firm. It is highly unusual to earn more moving in-house. As a 4, you'd be very lucky to pick up 100-110k as a base.

They joined from MC firms mate .There are only  approximately 50 in our London office , so by law firm Headcount it is tiny.

we have fixed pay scales from analyst to Director level. Fixed guaranteed bonus payments , which are expressed as a percentage of base (50-100%), then discretionary carry . However like most funds no “meaningful “ carry is awarded until you get to Director level. Our GC is MD , although he joined as a Director, so his base pay anc guaranteed bonus  was widely known 

You don’t work every weekend in private practice and being forced to live in the regions a million miles from a Pret is really troublesome 

Working any weekend is clearly unacceptable. I haven't done that since about 2012.

I live a 12-25 minute train journey (depending on the route) from a major European capital, and a 15 minute drive from my office. There is a Pret ten minutes' walk from here but I only go there when I have a craving for a flat white or an English-style triangle sandwich because there are much better places in town to eat, and at work I can get a three course hot meal for about €5 and eating sad sandwiches at your desk rather than having a leisurely lunch with the team is frowned upon. 

A 4PQE is usually on about 90-100k. GCs are unicorn positions, tough to get and usually you leave pretty senior - this sounds like it was an exit for an MC partner, rather than a beleaguered fifth year, which is fair enough.

Re the "major European capital", you mean London? You're using that funny currency sign which is confusing me. I thought you were a UK lawyer.

Biggie , you seem to have all the answers ,not sure why you asked the question.

 

Biggie , you seem to have all the answers ,not sure why you asked the question
 

it rhymes with “mentally hill”

 

I think Biggie is or will be let go by his firm and he keeps pondering all the other types of roles within or outside traditional law. 

Biggie, when you have finally found your safe space give me a shout mate. I could always do with some cheap external doc jockey doing reviews for our transactions. 

FYI, I spent my entire weekend researching if I should buy a Tesla now or wait till the X or Y becomes cheaper (or GM launches it's alternative). I don't want a smaller one cause I take the dog to the dog park twice/week. 

Genuine question to those in-house. As I said, I'm a humble guy - I'm earning so much more than you, I'm not really breaking a sweat, and so I'm just wondering if people have just made bad life choices or there's something else going on. I know someone who had a mental breakdown and ended up in-house, someone else who had kids and wasn't the primary breadwinner, but they both work similar hours to what they would have done back in PP earning considerably less. I guess the promise of work/life balance and decent pay versus the reality of meh work/life balance and meh pay is part of it. 

Seems like people move into it for that promise, but then when they're there, it's too late and too hard to come back. Like getting really fat and lying down on a sinking couch and trying to get off it.

One of the (many many) reasons why I moved in house was because I thought it would give me better opportunities to work outside of the UK. Zero regrets about my decisions so far. 

Absolute fucking state of this. This is really what you spend your weekend thinking about? 

But that was a disaster, was it not? Because you ended up in the Netherlands or France, when you could have gone tax free in PP to the Caribbean or the UAE. Instead you got a similarly taxed jurisdiction and you surrounded by foreigners.

I didn't want to go to the Caribbean or the UAE (which is a grotty dump). 

And no, it wasn't a disaster, it was exactly what I wanted and has worked out really well. 🤷‍♀️

Plus if I worked in PP here I would be working such long hours that I would never see my other half or have a life outside work anyway and so I might as well have stayed in London. 

Good for you. I hope you're not just in the Netherlands and blotting out your problems with weed.

Not in the Netherlands, don't do weed, don't really have any problems. 

I hate time sheets, and can make more money than I did in practice. I outearn a good deal of the non-equity partners with almost none of the stress. 
 

did I mention time sheets? And how much I hate them?

Canadian: heard about your experience before, where do you work? Financial institution, asset manager, hedge, O&G....?

Weed comment came across as snarky, was only intended as bad joke btw

No worries. The idea that the reason I'm where I am rather than doc blozzing in a shithole like Dubai due to poor life choices rather than a series of carefully calculated decisions was a better joke though. 

Tax free in the UAE? ROTFL!!! Have you seen the house prices? Or the price of anything there? Not to mention being a 2nd class citizen. 

This reminds me I need to go to my local (legalised) weed store and get a vape pen with some hybrid oil in it. It may come in handy on the weekends when I have nothing to do but scratch my balls. 

Tbf from what you've said about yourself, Dubai wouldn't have been realistic as it's just very competitive and you probably wouldn't have had a strong enough CV to work there. Which is not at all a reflection on you, just a reflection of how strong the competition is to work in a sunny tax free jurisdiction.

It is cheaper there than the UK. And if you're white and male, whilst you are a bit of a second class citizen, you're still above all of the other ethnicities and there aren't many natives wandering around, it's mostly all expats.

I actually think Biggie is making some valid points here.

One point he is missing though is that if you go in house there are generally fewer money and status obsessed people like him about.

Unfortunately, it often takes someone who is a bit of a dick to actually tell it like it is.

Tbf from what you've said about yourself, Dubai wouldn't have been realistic as it's just very competitive and you probably wouldn't have had a strong enough CV to work there.

Lolz I know some absolute jokers who have worked there. 

I'm always a dick, but I am really going all out windup merchant to try to get people to engage, otherwise, this thread would stand at 5 responses of people just saying "work/life balance, decent wedge innit" when I'm really not sure that's true.

Also I think all the jobs in Dubai/offshore etc are in practice areas I would rather have left the law than qualified into. 

When I was a trainee recruiters told me to qualify into banking/finance if I wanted international mobility. Thank fuck I didn't listen because I would not still be a lawyer. Can't imagine anything more boring. 

Biggie, what would you say is the earning/year of a good equity partner in PP?

Inhouse can be enormously frustrating but 10 years in I can't even remember enough about PP to make a meaningful comparison.  I do love working with non-lawyers, it's great being part of the story.  I was in PP in the City as a trainee and until 3 years PQE (medium IP/IT focused shop). Moved west, lived in Wales but worked in Bristol in a pretty similar sized firm with city and international offices. Didn't get MC beasted in either for any sustained amount of time. Moved inhouse 10 years ago. Had to learn lots of new skills. Was a litigator but immediately had to become a generalist. Took on loads of cosec work over the years in UK and beyond. Lots of non-legal stuff - projects, mentoring, culture, talent-development. Work extremely closely with chairs and CEOs across the group. Just been made GC.

Hard to comment on the money.  There was always that niggling feeling when I got to about 10 years PQE whether I would be a partner by then as most of my peer group were being made up back in London or in the regions. I probably do better than most people/partners in PP in my region and not miles off people in the sort of firms I left. Don't want for much I guess. Share options will be great for future plans for us and the kids. Dividends keep us in nice holidays and reasonable wine.

I've worked harder inhouse than I ever did in PP but that might be a seniority/responsibility/accountability/maturity thing. I have a big team so you tend to stress about them, their progression, them worrying about my dead man's shoes. Work on loads of interesting matters, deals, contracts whatever. Have lots of help from amazing MC, SC, regional, local etc firms. The luxury is calling the shots on who we get to work with, who we rate etc. Surround yourself with good people, don't be a dick, be kind, work hard and praise your team. If you are determined to get the best possible money ever then maybe avoid inhouse. We don't want people like that anyway.

On the whole it is really rewarding. I'm a big fan.

 

HTH.

I got someone to sign up to ROF, make an account just to post to my thread.

What a trooper. Good for you dude.

Exactly what Hero said. 

I know a GC who did his IPO not too long ago in NY. He had 500k plus options. They IPOed at $25 and the first trade was at $72. Current stock price is $135. You do the math. Of course not everyone has such a sweet IPO but then again not everyone wants $$$. 

V true LP. Didn't realise Biggie was suggesting that. Oh dear.

But he/she gets the irony prize for their comedy name. 

“And what are those points exactly?”
 

... that its perfectly possible to have a good life and make a lot of money in PP

.... that many ihouse roles are as demanding as some PP roles

... that many ihouse roles can hit a comp plateau quite quickly.

 

As I say its an illiquid market and there are good and bad roles in both pp and ihouse. I think some junior and not so junior lawyers can be very naive about ihouse automatically meaning a good balance and PP automatically being a hellish slog.

And I do see quite a few CVs from ihousers who have clearly realised theyve made a mistake and/or can see they are not going to progress to GC etc and have to decide whether to stay put without the money they would like or do something else - sometimes heading back to PP. Equally I am sure that there are many PP lawyers who give far too much shooting for partnership / equity partnership never quite make the money they think they should have made and realise theyve given far too much to the job. But there are in fact quite a lot of senior assoc/counsel/FSP type roles which pay 150-300 and can be very tolerable lifestyle wise. I think it may be harder to find those in house. They sometimes require a bit of work to find/build but it can be done.

There are no easy answers, everyone has to find their own path.

Tbh I think Biggie makes another valid point - being in or around FS/PE helps quite a bit.

Disappointing.

The only issue with your account is that you're precisely the sort I am not referring to. That is, someone from a non city or lower mid market city firm who has gone in-house and done well for themselves.

You weren't going to make much in PP, and you probably make more than you would have done had you stayed. Plus you have had a more varied and interesting work diet.

I'm referring to the city tedes Taylor Wessings, SC, MC, US firms who have better options in PP.

Friends with a couple of partners there - very nice guys. I'm sure they wouldn't want to be associated with this Biggie account though.

Oh Biggie. Whatever it is you are looking for, I really hope it's out there. 

Biggie - I fit your spec and as I said above I am currently only £10K gross down on my peers back in the MC for my PQE.

i don’t expect to progress up to 150ish as quickly as my peers over the next couple of years but my work life balance is amazing versus getting murderered as a junior associate and I have a path to the 150plus if I continue to perform.

i know I didn’t want the life of a junior partner at my shop so the slog for the dollar didn’t feel worth it given in my field (FS) I can get thereabouts with no timesheets and a far healthier work life balance.

 

 

@Canary - 

.....that its perfectly possible to have a good life and make a lot of money in PP - I do not think anyone in-house denies this. Horses for courses. I think Biggie is (or certainly was) suggesting that anyone who has moved inhouse is either not competent enough or are too stupid to know the magic formula of PP. 

.... that many ihouse roles are as demanding as some PP roles - Agreed but it is a different kind of demand, made easier by people with diverse background and skill sets. Some doctors are GPs and some work in hospitals. One is not better than the other simply because it pays more. 

... that many ihouse roles can hit a comp plateau quite quickly. - This depends on factors like industry, market condition and your experience level. See my comment about a certain GC few posts up. A good in house lawyer who knows how to stay calm under pressure and deal with crisis does not usually have to worry about job security. 

There are good and bad lawyers everywhere. Sometimes people make money because they have earned it sometimes inspite of doing all the right things, it just does not happen. Circle of life. 

PS: Speaking of timesheets, I fvcking love reviewing time sheets of our external counsels and telling them off for spending too much time. Can't help it. cheeky

Biggie you maintain you earn so much more than others on here, serious question, how do you know what others earn on here ? Best you say what you earn and others can confirm whether you do or otherwise...

I work in-house, and 3 members of my former PP (US firm) team, that I helped develop, have moved in-house.  All the ones that have moved in house earn between 250-400k all-in.  I've been approached by mid-market firms (including some Biggie has mentioned) for entry level partnership roles over the past couple of years, and turned them down as they (to my surprise) all would have comprised sizeable comp cuts. My hours and ability to work flexibly are significantly better than they ever were in PP.  The only downsides (and they are pretty big downsides, I'll admit) are that: (i) the vast majority of my colleagues now are significantly less able and competent than when I was in a top tier US practice; and (ii) progression is completely unmeritocratic (politics plays a far greater role than was ever the case in PP, as in-house enough people are not technically capable enough to differentiate between the quality and the chaff).  Although the shallow quality around me also means it's easy to half-arse things and still be significantly more impressive than anybody else.  My friends who moved into fund in-house roles didn't experience the same severe drop in quality of colleagues, but their hours are generally tougher than mine.

Surprising to me too; which general industry is this? It's not funds, it can't be banking. Those I know who have gone IH to banks suffer the worst. Those salaries (inc. bonus) would be toppy for a mega fund - if you get a sweet deal at MD as a 7-10 PQE maybe not so though.