{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Anyone have regrets taking a pay cut to go in-house? I am a pretty junior attorney (2 years in big law) and have the opportunity to go in house at a large company (Fortune 25). However, pay is on the low end for Associate Counsel. Is a 60K+ pay cut (including bonus and RSUs) worth it for the growth potential? Maybe for the chance to move to a FAANG one day? My would-be department/area is very transferable.", "post_id": "6087139e25cfca00215b6286", "reply_count": 28, "vote_count": 13, "bowl_id": "5dc50686129b3e0021a249b4", "bowl_name": "In-House Counsel", "feed_type": "bowl" }
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Anyone have regrets taking a pay cut to go in-house? I am a pretty junior attorney (2 years in big law) and have the opportunity to go in house at a large company (Fortune 25). However, pay is on the low end for Associate Counsel. Is a 60K+ pay cut (including bonus and RSUs) worth it for the growth potential? Maybe for the chance to move to a FAANG one day? My would-be department/area is very transferable.

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No regrets whatsoever. Took about a 40 percent pay cut as a fifth year, but went from constant weekend work and no respect for my time to full autonomy, actually impacting my business, and no weekends/only occasional evening work when necessary and entirely at my own discretion. The benefits to my mental, physical, and social health have been immeasurable and id never go back.

likeuplifting

I have moments and twinges of regret at times when I took a 50% pay cut to go in house. But I love my job and what I do so that grounds me when I feel jealous of others and miss my huge ass paychecks. Work/life balance is huge - I know I can go in house at a tech company make close to what I was making in big law (with the extras included) but for me - the stress level is not worth it. So overall - no regrets but I get jealous until I remember all of the tears and sacrifice that went into earning that paycheck.

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No regrets at all after 20+ years. Actually took a pay HIKE when I left the firm. I have a life outside of being an attorney. That is worth a ton of money. So is being happy doing what you do in your job.

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I took a 30k base salary paycut going in-house (210 down to 180). I moved as a fourth year so... I was being majorly underpaid at a V100. Definitely stings a little, but I haven’t worked a single weekend yet and my day is firmly an 8-5 schedule right now (including an hour lunch where I eat and go on a walk). If you think the job will give you more opportunities (whether it’s at the same company or jumping to another one), I say do it now. I’ve learned so much more being in-house for two months than I would have at the firm.

Also, because I have free time now, I’m picking up hobbies I haven’t had time for in years. I’m also doing little side jobs like giving my neighbors’ kids piano lessons (which isn’t the big bucks but gives me a lot of joy).

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No signing bonus. Total comp will be close to ~220. Annual bonus, 401k match, ESOP.

Are you saying that all-in total comp is less than 130k? That seems low even for your level.

If you’re already looking to leave biglaw I don’t think you’ll ever regret the move regardless of pay. However, you might regret not sticking around for another year or two to get a better starting salary upon going in-house. Biglaw firms are mostly lock-step but your starting salary at your first in-house gig will be an anchor moving forward.

likesmart

Depending on your goals it may also make sense to swing for FAANG as soon as you can (basically, as a third year), stay there for a year to lock in the high salary and then pivot elsewhere. That will honestly do more to give you a high anchor than staying additional years in biglaw, just because of how salary determination works at the in-house level. Of course it’s easier said than done.

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A small pay cut was worth it for me because of the stress levels that came with billable work. Better work life balance, better company, more opportunities.. It’s well worth it.

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No regrets. Take the job. Try to negotiate up to at least $200k and see if they’d be willing to increase your bonus or RSU. If not, see if they’d be willing to offer you a signing bonus to make up the difference. Once you’re in-house, it’s a lot easier to move to another company. It’s harder/more competitive trying to go in-house once you’re more established in your career. If it’s a good company, those jobs don’t open up too often. People at great companies tend to stay until they retire and are lifers. If the gig is as good as you say, the chance may not present itself for another 5-10 years. I actually had a pay increase so no help there but the work life balance alone is worth the pay cut IMO. G’luck!

likesmart

I took a “lower” paying in-house salary as a fifth year. Still mid six figures, low cost of living city. I honestly couldn’t be happier with my decision. The salary cut is 100% worth the life I got back, and we are still very comfortable.

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I’m a second year currently interviewing with a tech company for a counsel position. What is the typical salary for someone with my experience? I have no idea where I should start my salary negotiations yet

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thanks so much. this is really helpful

I am in a low cost of living city and was making $130k plus bonuses as a 5th year at a small firm. Jumped to in house making $150k plus bonuses but no equity and I feel amazing. Apparently people are making hella money in big law and taking cuts but I did better moving in house and still live in my low col town. $150k is a lot to me and I don’t have to be a slave to billable hours!

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I did this and regretted it, not because of the dollars but because they slotted me in a very low pay grade (essentially entry level even though I had 3 years at the time) and I was basically tethered to that starting point meaning I would always be behind my peers (in one case behind by 2 pay grades, roughly 40k difference) I would strongly recommend you probe the pay grades to avoid this happening to you too.

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No regrets. But I’ve heard not all moves in house truly result in better work-life balance. Mine did- and that’s why I have no regrets (honestly- my per hour pay when calculated out went way up- even though total comp dropped a bit). I would make sure your work life will truly improve (if that’s what you’re seeking) Bc then it will be worth it

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Yes and no... I took a substantial pay cut (around 60%) to go in house for a government position but some of the same issues come up. Did not even budget or try to calculate how this would affect my life—it was a spontaneous decision because I wanted to escape my law firm role. Some of the loss is offset by nearly 2 months a year in various leave forms and holidays (I had some prior gov service from back when that put me at a higher level). I am not living paycheck to paycheck but no longer have tens of thousands of dollars ready to pay for things like a new roof, or service on my foreign car, or updates to my house. I’ve been here four years now... and have lost most of my contacts/connections from the private sector. It is definitely lonely, as people just come here to wait out the years to get their pensions. My main regret is not doing more research/asking more questions about the workload—which at times rivals private practice. The “expectations” are only 40 hours a week... but we all know that’s not possible with a heavy litigation caseload (mine is now double what it was in private practice). I also miss working on “important” cases — and I’ve found government “clients” to be less appreciative of private sector clients, and in a lot of cases more demanding. Definitely more isolating for me— and low pay kills motivation. If there’s no hope for a bonus working weekends (or any time over 40 hours) is a huge turnoff.

Not sure where you work, but you might want to try looking for opportunities at other government agencies with potentially higher pay. There are a number of agencies (e.g., financial regulators) that pay well above the GS pay scale. You’ll never make BigLaw money, but at the high levels you could get as high as 250 - 300k salary not including the great benefits, pension, etc.

Never worked in big law but I love working in house. Yes the money isn’t as good and the hours can be rough, though not as bad as big law, but you get to be invested in the business. No regrets here

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