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Blog Name: Beyond the Pinstripe's blog

Building success outside the law
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27 January 2013

[Beyond the Pinstripe is a website and blog which examines alternative career options for private practice lawyers.]

Nathan Sawaya is a New York-based artist who creates awe-inspiring works out of some of the most unlikely things. His art focuses on large-scale sculptures using only toy building blocks: LEGO® bricks to be exact. But wait, Nathan has a dark secret: he used to be a lawyer.

Yellow by artist Nathan Sawaya. Photo courtesy of brickartist.com.

As a creative person, how did you get into law in the first place? Was it peer pressure, a desire for a stable job or something else entirely?

There is a pivotal time in most everyone’s life when it is time to pick a career path. For me that time came after graduating college. I had to decide if I wanted to do what I like, or do what was expected of me. I liked art. But I didn’t have faith in my art as a viable career. There were definitely societal pressures to go out and become a professional. I wasn't particularly clear on what I wanted to do, so in the end, going to law school at NYU seemed like a prudent choice.

For those who don't know about your work, can you describe what you do?

I am a full time independent artist who specializes in creating large scale sculptures made entirely out of toy LEGO bricks. I currently have multiple touring exhibitions of artwork titled, THE ART OF THE BRICK, that travel to major museums around the world. My artwork is also on display and commissioned through various contemporary art galleries around the world including galleries in Paris, New York and Miami.

X-Ray by artist Nathan Sawaya. Photo courtesy of brickartist.com.

My art studio is based in New York City. I have more than 2.5 million individual LEGO bricks at my disposal.

At what point in your legal career did you realize that you wanted to give up drafting shareholder agreements for working with LEGO?

Early on in my legal career I realized I needed a creative outlet after long days at the firm. To shake off the stresses of the day, some colleagues went to the gym, others to the corner bar, but for me I needed to do something expressive. I would draw, paint and even sculpt. I sculpted out of more traditional media like clay and wire. Then one day I challenged myself to try my hand at creating a large sculpture out of this toy from my childhood. I liked LEGO as an art medium a lot. It was instantly colorful and clean. There were no paint brushes to wash or clay to cleanup. When I came home from the firm each night, there was the sculpture just as I had left it – ready for me to instantly continue from where I left off the night before. Suddenly I realized I liked coming home and I liked expressing myself with LEGO.

The sculptures got a great response from friends and family, who encouraged me do more pieces. Soon I had a small collection of artwork and I put together an online gallery, www.brickartist.com. After that, I started getting commissions for work from people all over the world. I would spend a full day at the law firm negotiating contracts, then six to eight hours at night creating artwork.

It was the day my website crashed from too many hits I realized it was time to make a change. I decided to leave the practice of law to go play with toy bricks. I had confidence in my artwork now to finally do what I like, not what was expected.

Was it difficult to quit the legal job? We're you afraid of the drop in salary (or no salary!), the loss of status, the unknown?

It was a big risk at the time. I was going from a very stable career with a six figure salary and benefits, to more of a bohemian lifestyle not knowing if I was going to be able to pay rent the next month. And I had the burden of student loans from law school still hovering. There was a lot of fear, but my gut told me it was the right move. I was following my passion.

As for status, no offense to attorneys, but I was going from being a lawyer to playing with toys all day. I think I was moving up in status.

If so, how did you rationalise what you were doing and did you have the support of your friends, family and peers to help you along?

The support of friends and family was an important element in making that transition. And as much as my family was supportive, I think my colleagues were a little jealous. And my bosses were just confused.

Gray by artist Nathan Sawaya. Photo courtesy of brickartist.com.

Also I quickly found out who my friends were. There were a number of people telling me I was crazy and I was making a mistake. I found out sometimes you have to cut negativity out of your life, and for me that meant cutting out people who I thought were my closest friends.

And now, many years later, I’ve never been happier. THE ART OF THE BRICK exhibition is entertaining and inspiring millions of museum guests around the world, I have the privilege and honor of traveling internationally meeting fascinating people and lecturing about following dreams, passions and how important art is in everyone’s lives and to top it off, my new book keeps selling out on Amazon!

Your "Artist Statement" refers to your legal career as something which people say has "defined you". How has your legal career helped to define you and have the skills you learned working in New York been useful in running the business side of art?

I approach every project with careful thought. My legal career taught me how to think critically about all of my work. The skills I gained as a lawyer have been very useful in my artistic career. Whereas other artists need to hire an attorney when negotiating contracts for commissions or exhibitions, I can negotiate directly with the client. And of course it has been beneficial when it comes to protecting the intellectual property rights associated with my artwork.

Do you have any useful hints, tips or stories which may help other lawyers who are considering leaving the law to become artists, writers or set up their own business?

I often get contacted by all sorts of people who are looking to leave their job and follow their dreams. I encourage all to do so, but be sure you have the necessary tools in place before you take that leap. If you are going to quit your job as a corporate attorney to go play in a rock band, be sure you have taken a guitar lesson or two.

As for me, the worst day as an artist is still better than the best day as a lawyer.

 

You can keep up with Nathan Sawaya via any of the social outlets below:

Photo courtesy of brickartist.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebrickartist
Twitter : @NathanSawaya
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/nathansawaya
Instagram: @NathanSawaya
Google+: +NathanSawaya
His new book: The Art of the Brick - The Pictorial
His cuusoo project: http://lego.cuusoo.com/ideas/view/17353#

 

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Considering leaving the law to become a writer?
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17 January 2013

[Beyond the Pinstripe is a website and blog which examines alternative career options for private practice lawyers.]

I met up with Alex Wade, author, surfer and lawyer in the middle of December. He was preparing for a 5-a-side football match [note: "scored two, thanks"] while I was preparing for a weekend of Christmas-related mayhem.

Our paths have been a stark contrast. I felt completely boring by comparison, but there was a lot of familiar ground when it came to why we left private practice, where we were both going and why were both in Cornwall. It has been a long, hard road for Alex to get him to where he is now, living a lifestyle he’s happy with and which allows him time to enjoy life, enjoy the ocean and earn a living as a writer.

For those of you haven’t heard of Alex Wade, he cut his teeth at Carter-Ruck, worked for Richard Desmond, subsequently got in a fair bit of trouble and left his final law firm under a bit of a cloud. Most of this can be discovered by reading his first book, Wrecking Machine, so I won’t spoil the story by recounting it here.

Since then, he has written numerous books and newspaper articles which indulge his passion for writing as well as his passion for surfing. These include Surf Nation, and his new book, Amazing Surfing Stories. Indeed, Alex’s regular columns in the Times on surfing were a great read for the Murdoch-friendly surfers of the 2000s.

Leaving the law to become a writer

When I first contacted Alex to discuss this topic, his views were clear: “The law is a great skill. Keep your hand in with it – you never know when it’ll come in useful.” I was initially surprised but, the more I thought about it, the more sensible this seemed. Indeed, many people make a success of running their own business by moving into something related to law: legal recruitment; legal translation; legal publishing.

Alex is true to his advice. As well as writing, he provides pre-publication advice to the Guardian newspaper and a number of other publications (in fact, we first spoke post-Leveson and the man was up to his eyeballs in work), as well as working closely with Falmouth University as a visiting lecturer. Alex has also written University College Falmouth’s new media law course. This engagement with media law allows him to cope with the ups and downs of the literary world, which appears to be an uncertain one at times – and particularly at this time.

Indeed, when we discussed how to cope with the inevitable salary cut experienced when moving from a comfortable legal role to the unknown world of waiting for publishers to pick up your first piece of work, it was clear that this semi-casual, quasi-legal work was a lifesaver.

Moving to Cornwall

Alex’s move to Cornwall  was motivated both by his family and to inspire his writing. If one of your favourite hobbies is surfing, it probably makes sense to live in the hub of UK surfing and be as closely involved with the surfing “scene” as possible.

To this end, Alex sits on the Board of Trustees of Surfers Against Sewage, an environmental charity which has helped to significantly improve bathing water quality standards around the UK. If this didn’t keep him entertained enough, he edits the art section of Cornwall Today (having worked as Acting Editor for a number of years). He also edits for The Guardian, reviews books for the Times Literary Supplement and is currently writing a novel based on what he calls “the interface of media law and contemporary journalism”. (When I asked if the novel has anything to do with Alex’s time as a lawyer for News International he preferred not to comment.)

He also surfs whenever he can and can be found out in the water at his beloved Sennen Cove spending time with his sons. “The elder boy rips but is at that teenage stage where it’s all a bit too much effort,” he says. “The younger one is keen as mustard. They’ll both leave me behind soon!”. To me, this is a picture of work-life balance, made possible through hard work, guts and making sure the downside is covered by having several different income streams.

Life is now a world away from the bright lights and late nights of London but is not without its difficulties when you live so far from any kind of commercial centre. That said, the freedom to pursue a favourite hobby, write, provide a bit of pre-publication advice and work in a beautiful part of the country seems to far outweigh any downside for Alex.

Would he recommend the move away from private practice? “Yes, but make sure you’ve got as many bases covered as possible. The law is stable; freelance writing – if that’s your thing – isn’t. You’ve got to be prepared to take a risk but, as with anything in life, you have to work bloody hard.” And, repeating his earlier comments, Alex reiterates that it’s worth finding a way to keep doing law. “It is a very useful skill that we have all trained for and can be used in a wide variety of ways – particularly when times are hard and work is slow.”

It takes a certain kind of person

It was clear from speaking with Alex that he is someone who isn’t afraid of a challenge. After leaving legal practice, he was involved with a number of other industries, including a job selling sporting rights to the FA Premier League in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “I remember turning up at the national TV station in Uzbekistan to try and do a deal,” he recalls. “After blagging my way in past the guards with machine guns – by mentioning Manchester Utd – I spent 30 minutes on my sales pitch. The chap I was talking to then asked me a tricky question. ‘Why should we pay you for the rights, when at the moment we can steal them for free?’ Suffice to say that I didn’t do a deal in Uzbekistan.”  Alex also laced up his gloves on a number of occasions as an amateur and white collar boxer – and still boxes at Newlyn gym in West Cornwall today.

Alex’s varied life and willingness to give things a go, is mirrored by many people who successfully leave law and set out on their own. It takes a certain kind of person to do what he has done, as well as a lot of hard work, research and skill, and perhaps a bit of luck. But it’s not impossible, and increasing numbers of lawyers are finding their inner author while holding down the day job, during sabbaticals or after leaving law altogether. Maybe it’s time to put pen to paper.

Find out more about Alex on his website.

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How to maintain your creative spark while working as a lawyer.
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17 December 2012

[Beyond the Pinstripe is a website and blog which examines alternative career options for private practice lawyers.]

In the first of our interviews with creative types, we speak with Tom Glasson, lawyer-turned-writer-turned-entertainer on how he made the transition and what his legal career taught him.

How did you get into law in the first place? Were you one of those who get swept in or is it something you always wanted to do?

It was actually on the advice of a lawyer-turned-gameshow host! He knew I’d begun writing for a few TV shows while I was finishing law school and suggested I also rack up my ‘tour of duty’ (two years of practice in the firm) just so that – if the writing didn’t pan out – I’d have something upon which to fall back. I never expected to pursue it as a career, and certainly not for as long as I did. Law was an excellent degree (and a great way of putting off having to decide what I’d be when I eventually grew up), but as a partner once said to me: you don’t go to law school to learn the law, you go to learn how to think. I think that’s quite true, and I’m grateful for both the degree and the experience in the firm.

At what stage did you start thinking you might like to try something else?

I’m not sure I ever stopped thinking about pursuing the creative side of things, especially since I was able to maintain the writing as a side project outside of work hours. But, and I understand this quite common for professionals, I often felt like I was just ‘playing the part’ of a lawyer, whereas the writing and performing always felt second-nature to me. I’m not saying it’s necessarily what I was ‘born to do’, but it’s definitely a more natural fit.

You are now a writer, something many lawyers cite as their dream career, as well as presenter / comedian. Did your legal training and your experience to date help you get the role you’ve landed and does it provide you with plenty of material?

Absolutely. Not in a direct ‘I’m writing a comedy series about law and lawyers’ way, but always in the manner by which I approach writing. Legal work (and particularly in a litigious field), engenders an excellent sense of discipline, concision, appreciation for nuance and, perhaps most importantly, trains you to write for the audience rather than for yourself. That training and experience now manifests in every piece of writing I do.

How did you maintain your creative streak while working as a lawyer?

I was fortunate enough to be offered TV gigs while I was still in the firm, but I also maintained personal writing projects on the side and was lucky enough to work in a firm where creativity was wholly encouraged and respected. It didn’t matter whether it was just a departmental presentation, CLE seminar, charity event or recruitment drive, there were always opportunities to contribute in a fun but meaningful way and share a laugh with colleagues who were determined to maintain some personality in their work.

How did you get your break in the notoriously difficult world of television? Is it hard work? Genius? Good fortune?

I get asked that a lot, particularly in Australia where the market is so small and competitive. In my case it came through the university revue scene, which is traditionally the well-trodden path for creatives both here and overseas. The ‘break’ occurred back in 2003 when someone from one of the networks happened to be in the audience and invited me along to write for his show. Since then, each new production has just precipitated the next, and then the next, and so on. However it was only this year that I made the move from writer to ‘writer/performer’.

That said, others have used different approaches. Three of our current writers, for example, simply cold-called our producer and asked if they could come in for a few weeks as unpaid interns/writers. The execs liked their stuff and brought them on full-time.

In short, I think you need the talent to catch someone’s attention, the patience to wait for that person to come along, the luck for that person to be looking to recruit and then the moxie to then give it a go should the chance actually present itself.

What tips do you have for any lawyers who are looking to get into something creative?

Patience, more than anything else. It’s easy to feel like every second spent working as a lawyer is time lost in your pursuit of creative work, but I put in six years at the firm and in-house before deciding to give it a crack full-time, and at 32 years old I’m still very much a ‘baby’ in the industry. I kind of feel like Richard Dreyfuss when he gets called ‘young fella’ in JAWS – it’s all a matter of perspective!

But beyond that, it’s also essential to both consume as much of whatever creative material you’re interested in and keep producing your own. If it’s literature – read and write all the time. Even if you just write 200 words a day, that’s already 1400 by the end of the week. Finally, if opportunity does present itself, you’ve got to be prepared to embrace it. For me that meant saving a lot of what I’d earned so that when I finally decided to give it a meaningful whack I didn’t have to divide my time between writing and looking for part-time work to keep the money coming in.


Would you consider going back to work in a law firm? If so, would you approach your job with a different perspective?

The thought definitely pops back into my head from time to time. Perhaps it’s a ‘water til it’s gone’ kind of situation, but there really is quite a lot to like about the law; it’s intellectually engaging, well-remunerated and – for better or worse – offers a largely safe and predictable path forward. And yet, I’m always mindful of Hathaway’s observation that, should you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, your life will be safe, expedient and thin. I’m forever struck by how powerful (and unsettling) the word ‘thin’ is in that context, so at least for the indefinite future (and all that that expression might entail), I’ll persist with the dynamic life and see where it takes me.

You can keep up with Tom Glasson’s antics on his Twitter account: @tomglasson

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What on earth do in-house counsel do for a living?
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09 December 2012

[Beyond the Pinstripe is a website and blog which examines alternative career options for private practice lawyers.]

In this interview, we continue our efforts to find out what in-house counsel really get up to when at their desks. So we spoke with someone who works as General Counsel in a medium-sized business in Sydney to see what he thought about life, the law, London and Lloyd’s.

I have found that most in-house roles enjoy more flexible hours and are not tied to the depressing billable hour that has caused many lawyers to leave private practice.

What made you choose a career in law?

My grandfather, Fraser Wesley Coss, was a Sydney barrister who read under Sir Garfield Barwick (who went on to become Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia) in the days when you had to pay to do your training as a young lawyer. Times were lean after the great depression however and it was not easy to make a living as a young unknown in the legal profession. Fraser took a job doing fairly menial work for Woolworths Australia [for non-Antipodeans, Woolworths is pretty similar to Asda] and in due course went on to serve on the Board of that company for many years as National Property Manager, retiring eventually in the 1980s. As a former barrister however, he was the first point of call for the then Chairman, Sir Theo Kelly, on all questions of law. As a result, he was most likely Woolworths’ first in-house lawyer, albeit in a de facto sense. It was my grandfather’s diverse career in the law that inspired me to want to become a lawyer as it seemed to me that it could open all sorts of doors to a variety of different career paths.

What did you really want to do, if you could have done anything?

My first career choice was to become a commercial airline pilot and fly jets like my father did for many years at TAA (Trans Australian Airlines) or as it was to become, Australian Airlines, before merging with Qantas. My eyesight was not 20/20 however and my ability with maths and science subjects at school was questionable, so my dreams of flying for a living to distant lands was inevitably quashed.

How did your career path lead you to working in-house?

I was working in private practice in London in 1999 for the venerable and well-known shipping and insurance law firm, Ince & Co. I was working on pretty sexy reinsurance litigation with large sums of money at stake and enjoying both the firm and the work. I happened to see an advertisement for a job in-house at a Lloyd’s syndicate which appealed to me as the General Counsel was a former Ince & Co lawyer, with whom I had worked while he was at the firm and who I admired as a good lawyer and a decent kind of person. Also, having been in private practice for about eight years including my time as an articled clerk at a small Brisbane firm, I sensed that I needed a change but wasn’t sure what that change should be. Anyhow, I took the job and discovered that I found in-house work significantly more rewarding from a personal perspective.

What is your current role?

My current role is General Counsel & Company Secretary for a medium size firm of insurance brokers based in Sydney called InterRISK Australia Pty Ltd.

What sort of things do you get up to on an average day?

When you are sole counsel in an organisation there is rarely an average day per se. This is particularly so where the firm is not a large corporation with the staff and resources to ensure that almost every role within the organisation has a particular focus. In a small or medium organisation, you have to learn to adapt and be ready to take up the slack or fill the gaps where they exist. An “average” day might involve negotiating an office lease, preparing an employment contract, reviewing an IT contract, handling an external complaint from a customer, conducting a legal & compliance induction session for new staff or advising on the scope of cover of an insurance policy.

What about a non-average day?!

Out of the ordinary things might include things like reviewing staff email based on a suspected breach of company policy, doing due diligence to acquire a business, suing a supplier, drafting an awards submission or a response to a government consultation paper or preparing a tender.

What skills from your private practice days do you still use today and what have you had to learn as a result of being in-house counsel?

Private practice was an invaluable experience through which I learnt of the importance of accuracy and attention to detail.

As an in-house lawyer, these skills are still critical but success is much more about understanding how the commercial pressure points of a given situation are affected by the law, assessing the relevant relationships and delivering advice to the business that is user friendly and above all, intelligible.

In your experience, and obviously this must vary per employer, does working in-house offer flexible working and a good work / life balance, particularly for those employees with kids?

15 or 20 years ago, the in-house proportion of the legal profession was small. Today, in Australia, it is now the largest segment of the profession with over 50% of working lawyers being employed in government or corporate roles. There is accordingly a large pool of talent in the in-house profession and no shortage of roles that are as time intensive as any private practice role. Having said that, I have found that most in-house roles enjoy more flexible hours and are not tied to the depressing billable hour that has caused many lawyers to leave private practice.

If someone was considering leaving private practice and moving in-house, are there any practical steps you could recommend to help them?

Do your research about the culture of prospective employers and make sure you understand that the in-house choice invariably means foregoing the big salaries of the big law firms. Ensuring that you have a proper understanding of the culture of the employer that you are contemplating joining is very important. Some company’s view in-house lawyers as simply a good way of cutting overheads or due to regulatory demands perhaps even a necessary evil. The company you want to work for considers that the corporate lawyer is an invaluable resource who can and often does lead to gaining competitive edge in the company’s chosen market.

Is in-house a good alternative for lawyers who think that perhaps a legal career (in any form) may not be for them?

I would always advocate checking out your in-house options before leaving the profession entirely. This is not just to avoid your grandparents’ disappointment at not being able to tell their friends over bridge and biscuits that their grandchild is a successful lawyer. More importantly, the object of testing the in-house arena is to put to good use the skills you have acquired after years of hard study at law school and possibly also years spent burning the midnight oil at a law firm. These skills will be invaluable in almost any profession or walk of life but I would submit that outside of private practice, they are most relevant and most likely to be utilised to their full potential in an in-house role. Oh and of course, if you decide you like being an in-house lawyer after all, Grandma will be happy too!

Justin Coss is General Counsel at InterRISK Australia.

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In-house counsel stripped bare
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29 November 2012

[Beyond the Pinstripe is a website and blog which examines alternative career options for private practice lawyers. Caution: may contain typos.]

In the first of our series of interviews with lawyers practising and non-practising, we speak with an in-house lawyer to find out their view of the world, legal, careers and beyond.

What made you choose a career in law?

For similar reasons to most people I suspect. I was mindful that it is a well-paid industry, which is not a very inspiring reason to choose an industry but it’s difficult to ignore practicalities entirely when setting out on a career. Primarily though, my skill set was reasonably well suited to it – I am better with words than with numbers, I enjoy drafting written communications and analysing and presenting arguments.

What did you really want to do, if you could have done anything?

In truth, I never saw a long-term career in the law. I saw it as a launch pad for other things. I remember people saying that you can’t go wrong with the law because it exposes you to so many other industries and that, in time, it will be easy to make the step out. There is certainly some truth to that but, in some respects, I think a finance background will often make for an easier transition into a business role.

“I really wanted to be part of an exciting industry in a deal-making role. I wanted to be the person that does the deal much more than the lawyer who records the deal.”

As it turns out, my non-legal involvement and input has increased but I’m still a lawyer principally. I heard someone say recently that in being an in-house lawyer, they considered themselves a business person who considers legal issues rather than the other way around. That sounds about right to me too.

How did your career path lead you to working in-house?

Due to a connection, I was offered a position in-house when I had only been in private practice for a couple of years. At the time, I was still quite young and I was the company’s first lawyer, so there were some anxious moments early on. But in many respects, moving in-house came as a great relief. I was much more certain about my business acumen than my technical legal abilities. In-house life is more about finding commercial solutions rather than being right about the law all of the time. That’s not to say that the business doesn’t look to you to be legally accurate in your review of a position – it certainly does. But it’s guiding the business on whether to stick or twist which is the most exciting, rewarding and difficult aspect of the job.

What is your current role?

Given I work in a small legal team, it’s a healthy mixture of contractual issues, litigation, regulatory review and business administration, which may include matters which are entirely unrelated to the law. By way of example, I’m often asked to review key internal and external communications, regardless of whether there is a legal angle. I’ll also get involved in deals at a very early stage to sense-check some aspects of the proposal.

I suspect roles can be more specialised in bigger in-house legal teams but I find the mixture of work to be a saving grace. I don’t want to be working exclusively on one contract or one piece of litigation for weeks or months on end.

What sort of things do you do on an average day?

Well, an average day is probably the equivalent of 8 billable hours. So it’s a solid day but you are much better able to organise your own day and your own workload than in private practice.

I make sure I’m out and about seeing the business. Wherever possible, I make sure I go and see people rather than call them or email them. Ultimately, I do that because it makes my job easier – you get better information when you see someone in person – but it will help on many other fronts as well.

What about a non-average day?!

I could be travelling for the day, in a client meeting, in court, dealing with an urgent issue that doesn’t allow time for anything else….anything really.

What skills from your private practice days do you still use today and what have you had to learn as a result of being in-house counsel?

You still need to keep clients happy. It’s just that your clients are now management and employees of the business. If they don’t want to use you and don’t see the value in involving you, then the whole thing doesn’t work.

You need to remain mindful of commercial realities. In private practice, there’s no point filling time-sheets with work that will just be written off. In-house, you need to be spending time on the stuff that matters and spending the company’s money on external legal advice that is effective and addresses key risks.

I’ve learnt that approachability is crucial to the success of an in-house lawyer. I’ve also learnt to make a decision and move on quickly – you have to make a lot of them and it is not constructive to dwell on something when you have already applied your best judgment based on the information available.

In your experience, and obviously this must vary per employer, does working in-house offer flexible working and a good work / life balance, particularly for those employees with kids?

Essentially, yes. Late nights are a rarity and businesses are more open to home working and other flexible arrangements. There is less of a culture of needing to be seen at your desk and more of a culture of being judged by your output and effectiveness. So, that all lends itself to a better work/life balance.

If someone was considering leaving private practice and moving in-house, are there any practical steps you could recommend to help them?

If they’re absolutely clear on which industry they want to work in, then consider working in that industry as a non-lawyer for a period of time. It will help with knowledge, contacts, industry lingo and ultimately, when you do land the position, will make you a far more effective lawyer.

If that is not an option, then most industries have training certificates/basic credentials that can be undertaken relatively cheaply and quickly. Your industry knowledge will improve as a result but, more to the point, it will evidence a desire to be involved in the industry, which potential employers will appreciate.

Clients of your current law firm are rich ground for potential in-house moves but obviously that needs to be handled delicately.

Is in-house a good alternative for lawyers who think that perhaps a legal career (in any form) may not be for them?

I certainly think it is. It is too simplistic to say that being in-house is the best of  both worlds, because not everyone finds that. But the less your role is exclusively about the law, the more you might find yourself enjoying the law.

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