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Species of In-House Lawyer - For the Amateur Observer

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18 April 2017 10:54

My first post in this series about in-house life generated a rather healthy debate and I would like to thank all those who commented (yes, even you). All attention is good attention, right?

This week, for your delectation, I present a beginners’ guide to in-house spotting.

The list below is by no means a full summary of the species of in-house lawyer one may encounter in the wild. But, for the amateur observer, what follows is a list of common breeds that will serve to get you started.

Photo: Juditu @ Morguefile

The Born and Bred (“B&B”) – B&Bs are raised in-house. They know all about supply chains, R&D and can chirrup business lingo like - well, a business person. Had they tried to join the big-city flocks, they may well have been rejected. Luckily it’s never bothered them much. Their commercial awareness is second to none, despite their 2:2 from Sheffield.

The Wannabe (“WB”) – A close cousin of the B&B. The WB’s distinguishing feature is a general lack of contentment. WBs mourns their rejection from the city, lust after the eloquent song of their private-practice cousins and toil for curiously long hours, looking on in disdain when the YP’s flit-off at five on the dot.  

The Tactical Mover (“TM”) – TMs spend a proper amount of time in private-practice, honing their craft and plumping the nest for winter. They only fly to new territory on proper inspection of the site and with assurances of comfort and life-long respect firmly in place.

The Young Parent (“YP”) – YPs move in-house shortly after the birth of their first baby. Once they get over the rather shambolic nature of the new environment they adapt to it well, bringing a sense of the city to the suburban nest. High proportion of females. Their offspring attend 8am-6pm nurseries.  

The Instant Convert (“IC”) – The IC is a rare breed but can be spotted on close observation of the field. ICs are raised in private-practice but feel the discomforts keenly. Fearing Stockholm Syndrome, the IC leaves the city on qualification, willing to go wherever will have them. They normally harbour secret intentions to give up the whole thing as a bad lot.

How about you - have you spotted any other breeds out in the wild?

  

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anonymous user
19/04/2017 22:07
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The Found Out (FO) - private practice lawyer who was an outsourcer to counsel and project managed files. Poor value for money and failed to become a client relationship manager as they tried to rework their job. After eventually being found out they leverage a move in-house. Often closely aligned to the YP.
anonymous user
21/04/2017 09:10
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The Too Tired ("TT") - these peculiar birds love working in big law firms, but the price (in terms of health, family etc.) is for them just too high.
Amanda-In-House
21/04/2017 12:03
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Glad to see you have such a positive view of in-house lawyers anon! There are places to hide in both PP and in-house, I would sugget that the risk of being "found-out" applies to both work places. Managing internal clients is a crucial part of the job for senior in-house lawyers as well. Also, don't some FO's remain in PP as "of-counsel" or an equivalent position that sits just underneath or along-side partner?

And there are certainly some TTs about - though by the time they leave I imagine their love for the big firm has diminshed somewhat?
anonymous user
26/04/2017 19:38
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"The Outsourcer" (TO) - they realise they can pretend to be a lawyer by outsourcing all of their work aside from the most basic document preparation. Their job revolves around controlling external legal spend and attending lots of free events care of their panel solicitors. This breed of in-house lawyer attends every meeting at the company to ensure they are busy and constantly involved with projects. Many colleagues suspect they are trying to leverage an operations manager role.
anonymous user
27/04/2017 10:08
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The Meldrew - 20+ PQE GC/Head of Legal/Senior Counsel who "can't believe" that there are city firms expecting them to pay for the services of NQ-2PQE lawyers who earn more than them.
anonymous user
28/04/2017 18:21
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This is amusing, especially since most PP lawyers are totally inept when it comes to providing commercially or operationally relevant legal advice. Most PP lawyers stay in PP because they are too afraid to try real life - easier to be a well-paid wage slave, doing hat you're told, rather than actually taking charge of your career.

Still...horses for courses and all that.
anonymous user
29/04/2017 00:29
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"doing hat their told" - and that's where it shows. The in-house limitations. PP > in-house.

anonymous user
29/04/2017 08:28
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YP - a little sexist, no? It seems to me that lawyers (regardless of gender) may choose to move in-house for any number of work/life balance related reasons.
anonymous user
29/04/2017 11:28
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"Former Secondee" (FS) - leveraged a move from PP following on from a secondment. Tend to be attractive or have great banter. After a couple of months it's established most of their work is substandard. A short enquiry reaches the conclusion they arranged for PP lawyers at their old firm to handle lots of work for free during their secondment and they were largely there to provide client care. Lovely person but dead weight for the department. For such a limited technical skill level they show an aptitude for maximising their entitlement to company benefits.
anonymous user
29/04/2017 11:36
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The Grass Is Greener ("TGIG") - started off in-house and only knows a couple of areas in law that apply to the company. Remains in contact with their old university friends in private practice. Is convinced that private practice is more exciting and lucrative than in-house based solely upon conversations in the pub. Is curious about leaving for private practice and loves speculating to co-workers about doing this. Colleagues zone out after hearing this for the 20th time. TGIG is convinced he is hard done by as he leaves at 5pm on the dot.
anonymous user
02/05/2017 10:37
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"a client without a lawyer is still a client, a lawyer without a client is a nobody" - adage from a magic circle partner.
anonymous user
23/06/2017 10:11
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There is also the PIR - the "professional indemnity refugee" who has soiled so many private practice nests with negligence claims that it needs a nice clean nest where it sits on the edge and its incompetence plops on the heads of the poor private practice lawyers with whom it works. The pooed-on ppls cannot point out or complain about the PIR or charge the additional clean-up costs because they risk losing the worms the PIR drops. The PIR fluffs itself imperiously, safe in the knowledge that any blame for nest-soiling can - however spuriously - be passed on to any passing species.