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5 Questions to Ask Before Going In House

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 09, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As with any job, there are pros and cons to going in house. While making the transition, it's important to ask the right questions so that you are faced with any big surprises on day one at your new corporate gig.

Stephen E. Seckler at BCG Attorney Search put together a valuable list of top FAQs. Here, we've taken some of those FAQs and added our own twist.

1. How Do You Find the Right In-House Job?

You probably already know the answer to this one: know somebody. If you're already a mid-level corporate associate at a top firm, head-hunters are probably already calling you. But if you're not in this club, you will have to go find the opportunities yourself rather than wait for them to find you. This requires networking. It's true that some people get luckier than others, but you can help boost your chances of getting lucky by finding other IH who are willing to give you the time of day.

2. What's the Pay Like?

In-house salary trends have remained remained constant for some time. Those at the tippy-top enjoy a nice premium over other IH at smaller companies. This is consistent with observations made with top paid attorneys generally and the rest of us poor suckers. If you're aiming for a smaller company or even a startup, you can expect to be paid in stock-options rather than in money. This can go either way. So long as you're aware of the risk of your startup failing, you can move forward with the hopes of a future that's more rewarding that a simple paycheck.

3. What About Timing?

Timing is a very important factor to consider. If you're angling to move into a more business-heavy area of law, then, "the earlier the better." The longer you practice as an attorney only, it will be harder and harder for others in the company to see you as anything more than as an attorney.

4. How Much Flexibility Do You Have in Your Career?

If you're going in house, it'll be harder for you to move back into practice carrying a roster of multiple clients. After years of serving a single client, you'll have to readjust to managing and understanding highly varied individual clients. Not everyone can make that change back the other way around.

5. What's the Best Training for Going in House?

Corporate generalist training is the best bet, according to Seckler. Patent attorneys probably have the easiest time doing in house work because many large firms have very valuable patents. Litigators often have the hardest time since there's an increasing trend to contract that work out. Know the realities of your training.

This article is courtesy of BCG Search.

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