No matter what stage you’re at in your legal career you will have contemplated the perceived differences between working in-house and in private practice.
Having worked in private practice (large and small) and also in-house ourselves, at Barden Legal we have a great insight into both. Also, as experts in legal recruitment we work on legal jobs at all levels, partnering with top legal talent and world-class legal teams, which gives us a unique insight into legal careers.
Speaking with legal professionals on a daily basis we find it interesting that people tend to have quite different perspectives on the two. The focus is often around working hours, salaries and the pace of work, which can indeed differ between the two. However in our experience, there is a lot more to be considered, and often the opposite of what you might expect can be true.
To help you think about this more broadly, we’ve put together two brief blogs highlighting the less talked about upsides of each route.
First up…Private Practice
As mentioned earlier, this is always going to be somewhat subjective, and an advantage to one person may not be so to another, but we will try to keep this simple!
Your Career Path is Pretty Clear: Most firms have a system for progression. It is good to be able to work towards your next promotion, pay rise or bonus, and to have an open dialogue about same. Once your firm is of a certain size, you will generally be able to see how careers have progressed for other solicitors and get a good idea as to what the future may hold for you. If you cannot see a path for you in your current firm you can consider speaking to another firm, which might have a more visible path for you.
Variety in Your Client Base: Unless you are very specialised, you will likely work with clients from a range of industries. You may be looking after the legal side but you will need to understand the commercial factors driving each transaction or case. Not only does this lead to continued learning but results in a varied and interesting work life.
You Have Likeminded Colleagues (For the Most Part)! This is not to be undervalued. Most solicitors have come through a similar academic and career path. Everyone has faced the dreaded FE-1s, everyone lost the run of themselves in Blackhall, and everyone now struggles with their workload.
There is something really nice about working in an environment where everyone has so much in common. As much as we all try to avoid it, we enjoy a good chat about legal stuff with our peers when having lunch or out for a drink. It is only when you step away from practice that you will really miss this outlet.
You Are Client Facing: A client-facing role provides opportunities to work directly with external stakeholders, enabling you to develop key relationships, contacts and interpersonal skills. As curious, social and interactive creatures, solicitors find this a very rewarding and enjoyable aspect of working in private practice.
In addition, as you work your way up the career ladder, and become a partner, there is a requirement that you not only deliver core business activities but also bring in new business.
Business development success depends heavily on who and what you know. In order to cultivate and establish the right working relationships you need exposure to the right people and the opportunities to demonstrate your expertise. Being client facing you’re sure to gain this exposure. And thankfully because this is already part of your “day job” you’re at an advantage.
Keep an eye out for our second blog which focuses on the “Upsides of In-house”.