How Does Working In-House Differ from Private Practice?

Working as an in-house lawyer tends to be seen as a very different experience than working in private practice.

It is not only the environment or pay that differs, but also the type of work you are doing. As a private practice lawyer, your aim is to generate revenue and income for the firm. In-house lawyers rather are often treated as a ‘cost centre’.

ADDED VALUE: In-house lawyers do not have to worry about billable hours, nor needing to bring in more legal work. However, this does make it difficult to quantify the value added to the business in the same way private practice lawyers can. In-house lawyers rather have to actively demonstrate the value added. The focus for them will be on furthering the company’s profit and loss targets.

VARIETY OF WORK: Private practice encourages the division of specialisms, meaning lawyers practice within their niche practice area. In-house lawyers rather have to be more well-rounded and often have to be familiar with areas of law they wouldn’t otherwise practice. In-house lawyers can find themselves covering broad corporate and commercial law, employment, IP, IT, GDPR and regulatory and governance.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE: Working hours can be a huge difference. Private practice lawyers can find themselves pulling up to 14-hour days, whereas it is more likely for an in-house lawyer to pull 9-5 days, (within reason). In-house roles also provide more opportunity for flexible working arrangements, including working from home a few days a week.

COLLEAGUES: It is not uncommon for the in-house legal team to be made up of only a few lawyers and in some cases, there may only be one sole counsel. Working in-house therefore may prove to be a lonely position for lawyers. However, there is also the benefit of working closely with people of other professions. It breeds a more diverse environment which is definitely sought after.

If you are interested in a move in-house or want more information please email

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