{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Been in house for 5 years with current company (practice for 7), considering a move to a firm that is mid size but on big law pay scale - firm claims to be big on work/life balance. Currently working a ton and only making $140k + 20% bonus. Given how everyone dreams of moving in-house, am I crazy to move to a firm?", "post_id": "60f455e15dff7e002facb71f", "reply_count": 16, "vote_count": 3, "bowl_id": "5dc50686129b3e0021a249b4", "bowl_name": "In-House Counsel", "feed_type": "bowl" }

Been in house for 5 years with current company (practice for 7), considering a move to a firm that is mid size but on big law pay scale - firm claims to be big on work/life balance. Currently working a ton and only making $140k + 20% bonus. Given how everyone dreams of moving in-house, am I crazy to move to a firm?

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No, you’re not crazy. In-house can be a sweatshop too and has all kinds of stresses that are not involved in biglaw (and vice versa). Most people at firms have never worked in-house and just assume it’s better. Chances are, you’ll work more at a firm, but at a biglaw pay scale plus the varied experience and training you’ll hopefully get, may be worth it, at least for a while. You can always go back in-house in a year or two if you hate it, and you’ll probably be able to leverage your biglaw pay and experience for a better starting offer in-house.

It may be a big adjustment for you in terms of being managed more and dealing with the hierarchy and needing to bill your time and needing to push back when getting overloaded, but you’ll figure it out. You may have an easier time pushing back on too much work at the firm as, unlike in-house, there’s an army of other associates who can do the work instead of you.

What class year are they taking you as? Were your first two years at a firm?


OP - I just left my in-house gig for a big firm. I was bored with the work and was working the same hours as big law so I made the jump. They took me in as a 5th year and so far, so good. Billing isn’t bad. I think people make it out to seem worse than it really is. Just enter it every day. The partners will let you know what’s acceptable and what’s not. What I like most about the firm is the learning and feedback. You don’t get that in-house and I can already tell I’m a better lawyer because of it.


I would be wary unless you need the money or are currently unhappy in your role. If your only complaint is “I wish they paid me more” not “I’m working 70 hours a week/hate my job”, law firms come with a LOT of added stress due to the billable hour and unreasonable partners/clients. It’s hard to imagine how much stress billables alone add.

I’m almost 6 years in (law firm for 5, in-house 1). I make 135 + bonus and would NEVER consider going back to a law firm for money alone (unless I needed it for some reason). For context, I billed 1700-1800 hours a year (plus 150+ non-billables) and took all of my vacation time. So it wasn’t a “lifestyle” firm, but I did have better balance than a lot of big law firms. But I will say that is still not good work life balance at all.

I took a pay cut coming in-house, but it was 100% worth it. There’s a lot of negatives and extra stress that come with a law firm. Unless there’s another motivation for leaving, I’d be hesitant.


TBD on the year, I wouldn’t agree to anything lower than 5, preferably 6/7. I don’t really care if they want to waste their time to review my work only to realize my work is solid - rather earn their trust then act like a prima donna.

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