Updated: Jun 17, 2020
So, after what I will describe as a “busy” few weeks working as part of a team of amazing in-house solicitors for a food and drink manufacturer, I was sat thinking about all the times I was told that working in-house was “a dream”, a 09:00 - 17:00 job that paid a good wage and delivered a great work-life balance. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job - but not for the reasons outlined above.
So to help all those students out there who may be spending their days thinking about an in-house career, or their pathway options into the legal profession, I wanted to bust those myths and tell you why I love my job - through an explanation of my day-to-day exchanges.
Your colleagues (whether commercial, technical or operational) are humans. That (teamed with the fact that no matter their academic background, they will have been trained to look for a solution to problems) means they will come to you with an idea that they have already mapped out in a way they think will enable them to achieve their goals.
When they come to you, they don’t want you to just say no. They don’t want you to point out the issues in what they thought was a perfectly viable solution. They want you to say yes! Unfortunately, the yes isn’t always possible. Now don't get me wrong, sometimes NO is the only answer possible, but in my experience only in 1 - 2% of the queries I receive warrant an outright NO. For the remaining 98% of queries, so many legal professionals just say “no” when there could be an alternative solution. Those people aren’t obstructive, they just haven’t tried to consider an alternative solution because what could they possibly think of that the commercial, technical and operational experts haven’t already?! You would be surprised - sometimes your lack of knowledge and questioning can give you an ability to view things in a much simpler way.
You have to listen to your colleagues' proposed solution and assess it. If you can’t say yes, ask them:
What do you want to achieve?
What is your goal?
With the goal, you will know what it is your colleagues and the business are trying to achieve and look to start building a new, viable and legally compliant solution.
*Queue love number 1
I can be innovative, I have a voice and my opinions are valued. We are all equal; PQE is irrelevant, you are simply a legal expert to your colleagues.
Will you need your colleague’s expertise to explore the solutions and work through the issues? Of course you will! That’s where you start building the relationships, the strong collaborative relationships with your internal clients that will last a lifetime.
*Queue love number 2
I learn every day from some fantastic people and not just legal stuff. I learn so much about the business I work for on a daily basis, and a lot of it is transferable knowledge.
Remember, in an in-house role you are primarily a legal professional; you are there to ensure business is done compliantly and with as minimal risk as possible. However, you are also an employee of that company and you are there to help that company achieve its goals.
*Queue love number 3
There’s a bigger goal than just billing hours and financial contribution. You are part of something and you see the results.
Consider in-house for the right reasons - the challenges, the team spirit and the lessons all make it one of the best choices you could ever make.