03 Feb 2016

More in-house lawyers looking to transition back to the firm, says recruiter

In-house departments may soon be facing an exodus of legal talent to law firms, as lawyers seek new opportunities and more varied work.


Burgess Paluch Legal Recruitment director Doron Paluch has commented that growing numbers of in-house counsel are looking to steer their career paths back towards law firms. 'We see lawyers who genuinely enjoyed, and perhaps now miss, the structure and nature of private practice,' commented Mr Paluch, suggesting that the emerging trend bucks the well-worn wisdom that firm lawyers often seek greener pastures in-house.

Craving diversity

In particular, it seems that the diversity of work in firms vis-a-vis in-house is a strong draw for lawyers who have grown tired of the monotony of always servicing the same client – their employer. 'Within a firm environment you get to work with multiple companies and specialties, so there is opportunity to learn alongside experienced partners about different ways of approaching the problem,' said lawyer Michael Milnes, who is leaving his role as a senior legal counsel at Metcash to take up a special counsel position at firm Mills Oakley. According to Mr Paluch, slow conditions in the in-house market over the last 12 months may also be feeding the flow back to firms. Meanwhile, average private practice pay continues to eclipse the salaries offered in-house, according to recent data from Emolument.

Proceed with caution

According to Mr Milnes, in-house counsel have a lot to offer law firms should they choose to transition back to private practice. 'In-house experience gives you a more commercial view; you have seen projects go from start to finish, you see how things are dealt with more commercially, you see business problems in a wider context,' he said. However, Mr Paluch cautioned that in taking the road less traveled, lawyers run the risk of making their career journeys look 'unstable' to future employers. 'There are more opportunities for lawyers who are in-house and who want to move back to a law firm environment than there were in previous years. Lawyers just have to be very strategic about how they go about making the move,' he warned. Source: Lawyers Weekly