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Why Associates Are Taking A Pay Cut To Go In-House

Aebra Coe LAW360.COM

In-house legal departments are continuing to snag young, talented attorneys from BigLaw firms in spite of a pay gap accentuated by a recent spate of associate raises, with nonmonetary perks luring associates away from law firms and into corporations.

Large companies have increased the size of their legal departments in recent years, with many adding attorneys in-house after the recession in an effort to save on the cost of hiring a law firm. That has made them a significant source of competition for promising, and sought-after, associates.

And even as associate pay has increased at a faster rate than in-house lawyer compensation, a number of talented young attorneys continue to turn down the mega-paychecks, leaving BigLaw for corporate legal.

Here, Law360 looks at three of the biggest reasons associates choose to leave law firms and head in-house.

To Stop Juggling Multiple Clients

Many associates are attracted to in-house jobs because it allows them to focus on serving one client — the corporation for which they work — instead of juggling numerous clients with myriad different challenges and issues, according to recruiters who place attorneys with legal departments.

That ability to see why a deal happened or what led to a lawsuit and seeing it through to its conclusion can be gratifying for attorneys, said Amanda Ziemann, director of Major Lindsey & Africa’s in-house practice group.

“They can be more proactive rather than reactive, less of strictly a lawyer and more of a business colleague,” Ziemann said.

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