Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Moving Laterally, Out-House to In-House

Julie Goldberg, right, a recruiter from Korn/Ferry, has a post over at Law.com on what it takes forGoldberg an in-house law department to recruit lawyers away from law firms, particularly given the escalation in salaries at big firms in large financial centers.

I agree with most of it - though there is a certain irony to reading about the attractiveness to lawyers of precisely the stock-based compensation that academic corporate lawyers are wont to debate - but one paragraph caught my eye as being wrong:

Although in-house lawyers put in long hours, their schedules have one big advantage over those of lawyers working in firms -- predictability. Do not underestimate the appeal of knowing that weekend and vacation plans will not be ruined. Work/life balance is now openly acknowledged as a factor in employment decisions, and top-notch lawyers demand time for life outside the office.

I don't know which corporation Ms. Goldberg is thinking about.  I'm pretty sure that if you counted up all the hours I would have billed, had I been billing them, in the first year after I left the law firm to go in-house, it would have been somewhere in the 2,700 hour range (compared to my high water mark, as I recall, in the law firm, of about 1,950).  That year also included something like eleven trips to Germany in ten months negotiating a joint venture, one of which was on about four hours' notice in the middle of a vacation - on a Tuesday morning, I was sitting by a beach in northern Michigan, and at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, I was in a conference room in Munich.

Taxi_meter_retro The great difference, to me at least, was the primacy of the result versus the primacy of the clock.  I know there are lawyers who can generate passion around what they do for others in the big firm context, but I couldn't.  The billable hour clock was always ticking in the background.  The 2,700 hours were fulfilling in a way the law firm hours never managed to achieve, and became something like the sense of time when you are fully engrossed in something other than watching the clock.

[Jeff Lipshaw]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2006/11/moving_laterall.html

Billable Hours, Hiring, In-House, Lipshaw | Permalink

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