Anyone work in-house at a construction company? What did you like/dislike? Have you (or someone you know) left to return to a firm? Or in-house in a different industry?

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My last day at a construction company was 2 days ago. I liked being actively engaged with the folks getting their hands dirty. However, I can’t say they felt the same about having an attorney in-house. They were often upset when I identified a potential risk, even when I presented solutions to proceed while mitigating the risk. Executive management didn’t understand how to use the smart people they hired to be smart for the benefit of the company (they repeatedly tried to tell me when I was and wasn’t acting as an attorney, yet almost everything called for legal advice or work product). I was also the only attorney across 300 employees. I had nobody to back up my perspective, but a gang of executive management to refute it, “just because.”

This was a pretty large infrastructure contractor. I’m not sure if people have had better experiences in commercial or residential construction. But I’ve left for another in-house role with an international company. They’re excited to have me, but they have no idea how desperate I am to join them.

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I was in-house with a professional engineering firm in the construction industry for about 2 years. It was a good company, good pay, equity, and great people, but sometimes they didn’t like the risk pointed out to them. They made a lot of “business decisions” to ignore Legal’s advice. Also, turnaround time was always super priority on contracts to get on site. So stuff at the end of the week was hectic.

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I have and I love it. I was in-house right out of law school then went to a firm and now I’m back in-house at the same construction company. Will say I learned a lot more at the firm for 1.5 years but it was enough to do what I need to do in my current role. Construction is great because there are many different issues that come up to keep things exciting day to day.

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I really wish this had been my experience.

Yup. Love it. But, not all contractors value their in-house talent equally so you really need to look at the company and culture.

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Are you a man or woman? I am a woman and had a terrible experience doing employment and compliance work for a very profitable infrastructure construction company. I’m a seasoned in-house attorney, very business minded and practical but had an experience similar to A1. Frustrated, beating my head against the wall always. Plus I was one of the only VP-level women and got the full sexual harassment treatment. BUT my good girlfriend is EVP/GC of a construction company and absolutely loves it. As always, and as someone said above, it’s the culture you’re walking into that will make a difference.

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I hope you are headed to a much better place, A1. You deserve so much better ❤️

After a career spent mostly in insurance-defense litigation, this is my second in-house-counsel gig at a construction company. The first was with a large subcontractor (10,000 employees), where I was an undervalued cog in the wheel. The second - after an interval back with a litigation firm - is with a smaller general contractor (300 employees), where I am the only attorney on staff. My experience echoes a couple of other comments on this thread.

1) You learn something new every day; and when you come across something you don't (yet) know, you figure it out. This can be challenging if you don't have somebody to lean on, but at my current company there are always people who are willing to talk it through with me. This is part of what makes the work engaging/interesting and holds your attention through the umpteenth contract review (contract reviews/negotiations, while often ultimately satisfying, can also be cookie-cutter, time-intensive, and grueling).

2) Dovetailing with the prior observation, it is all about the company and the culture. If you are in a supportive environment with people who give a shit about doing good work, are responsible to their clients and colleagues, and care about what they do, you will thrive. If you are in an an every-man-for-himself environment with toxic people, you will be miserable.

3) The Legal Department is often viewed as the Business Prevention Department, especially by the rainmakers. They pay you to advise them about how to avoid risk, but then whine when that advice gets in the way of their next sale, contract, project, whatever. You need to stand your ground, remembering for yourself - and reminding them - why they hired you in the first place. If a project looks too good to be true, it probably is.

The pay is good, not great ... and not anything approaching tech. One of the best things, though, is not being a slave to the billable hour. Good luck....

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I was GC for a General Contractor for four years and loved it.

The company was in a place where they were ready to stop growing for awhile and I felt like I would outgrow the position. I also live in Seattle and wanted to move into tech because there are way more opportunities and the money is on a different level.

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I currently do. Volume of work depends on the size of the company and your assigned territory. Keep that in mind. The sales people are hardheaded.

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