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A Room with a View - The Future of the In-House Lawyer

Since the beginning of the UK lockdowns back in March 2020, the legal market has been in upheaval. From the initial uncertainly in the earlier months, to a now rebounded and booming industry, it seems there is no end in sight for the demand for Solicitors across private practice, but what does that mean for the in-house sector? Especially for those who want to move into it!

The Pitfalls of Private Practice for the Junior Associate

The past 2 years have been difficult for a lot of Lawyers, especially Junior Associates. Suddenly, working from home with no guidance, very little structure and new surroundings, many are now feeling burnt out and disillusioned within their law firms. From uncertainty about whether their lives will be disrupted again by having to be back in the office, to having a more demanding caseload and greater pressure to bill more hours (I mean, they’re at home, right? So, they should be billing more when they would usually be commuting?), it’s no wonder they are now looking for a complete change of scenery.

With the recent announcements by top law firms that they are increasing their NQ salaries, as well as offering higher bonuses to existing employees, it has become a bidding war in an effort to attract and retain talent (and there is a severe talent shortage) but is a higher pay cheque really worth it if you are expected to work in excess of 80 hours per week and put in over 2000 billable hours? That doesn’t really leave much room for – well – life.

In-House Market Today

According to the Law Society’s Annual Statistics Report 2019, the number of registered In-House Lawyers in the UK has tripled in the last 20 years to approximately 31,000 and this number is very likely to become much higher as we move our way through 2022.

With the disruption that the pandemic has caused to businesses, the legal implications have become more and more obvious and the demand for an In-House Counsel, whether a seasoned professional, or an NQ, has increased dramatically due to the constant attention that is required to handle those issues.            

As for the pay cheque, well, depending upon the industry it can be very competitive compared to Private Practice, especially for Senior Counsel and General Counsel Lawyers. However, overall, it does not compete with the City firms. Despite this, the work-life balance is worth it to a lot of NQs, Associates and even Partners who just want to have a better balance in their day-to-day lives, irrelevant of salary!

But that is not all. There has been a steady rise in part-time and contracting opportunities, something that was not really offered before within the in-house market. The flexibility this offers Lawyers is very tempting indeed. Additionally, there is consultancy, a way of working that has gained massive traction here in the UK over the last few years.

Into the Thick of it

As we move forward towards (hopefully) a better future and the continued growth of the legal sector, what can we expect from the legal market and the future of the In-House Lawyer? I believe that talented Associates and Partners will gravitate towards this profession as they become more valuable to the companies suffering from the fallout of the pandemic, which will affect them for many years to come. I am sure most companies will now be aiming to keep their In-House Lawyers for as long as possible.

Contact Us

Tamara Chorokhova is a Legal Recruitment Consultant who specialises in the placement of In-House Lawyers across the country.

If you are a Legal Counsel looking for a new role or a Lawyer looking to begin a career working In-House, contact Tamara Chorokhova at tamara.chorokhova@interlinkrecruitment.com for more information about the opportunities available to you.

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