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Five Things to do if You Want to Move In-House

Moving in-house from a law firm requires some planning. In my role as a legal recruiter, I talk to many law firm associates who want to eventually move to an in-house position but very few have an understanding of the market or how to make that move. Here are my top tips for setting yourself up for an in-house move:

1.    Plan ahead.  On average, the move from a law firm to your first in-house position takes a year and a half.  There are several reasons for this timeframe: 

 *Many in-house positions require prior in house experience

 *The positions are competitive due to high demand

*Companies can move slowly, often with upwards of three rounds of interviews for each position (and sometimes as many as ten rounds)

2.    Budget.  If you are coming from an AmLaw 100 firm, you will almost certainly be looking at a pay cut to move in-house. Learn about the pay scale for in-house positions and budget accordingly – when your dream job comes along you will be able to afford to take it!

3.    Make Relationships.  Online applications rarely get a candidate very far for their first in-house position. Therefore, your network is very important. Establish and maintain good relationships with clients, a reliable recruiter, and other in-house attorneys. You will learn about more job openings and have a more direct method of submitting for the job.

4.    Understand the Market.  Because the first in-house position is the hardest one to get, it may not be your ideal position - you may compromise on type of work, title, pay, location, or all of the above. However, for your career as an in-house attorney these compromises will be worth it. The more you know about the market, the more you will understand which jobs are realistic for you and how they will help advance your long term goals.

5.    Network.  If this topic seems duplicative of “make relationships” it’s because I can’t stress enough the importance of networking. More than half of in-house positions come through networking! Reach out to your network to hear about their jobs, learn interview tips, and ask for introductions to other people who may be helpful!

Good luck and happy planning!

Liz Stone