Seasoned attorneys looking to make a move in-house should consider that the skills they have spent years cultivating in law firms may not translate to success and can even work to their disadvantage in a company environment.
Attorneys who fail to broaden beyond the strictly lawyerly set of skills that have served them in good stead since law school may fizzle out in an in-house role, according to several current and former senior in-house lawyers, recruiters and consultants.
Michael Sachs, a partner at recruitment firm Major, Lindsey & Africa and a former general counsel, said that his clients are often reluctant to bring someone in who has spent too much time at an outside law firm, observing that there are “too many bad habits that they’d have to un-crack.”
“As a general rule of thumb, if you’re there for a certain amount of time, it will be harder to make the transition,” he said.
Experts agree that attorneys who don’t transition well typically bring in adverse work habits and misplaced expectations about the nature and quantity of their workload or simply do not adapt to a new position that values leadership and business sense more than, say, a knack for writing briefs or researching arcane legal issues.