{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I’m a 4th year and have an opportunity to go in-house. I’m afraid I don’t have enough experience and won’t have someone to “learn” from. If I was more senior I’d take it in a heartbeat. Anyone else felt similarly when trying to go in-house as a midlevel?", "post_id": "60fa04bc7e8140002a942979", "reply_count": 11, "vote_count": 11, "bowl_id": "5dc50686129b3e0021a249b4", "bowl_name": "In-House Counsel" }

I’m a 4th year and have an opportunity to go in-house. I’m afraid I don’t have enough experience and won’t have someone to “learn” from. If I was more senior I’d take it in a heartbeat. Anyone else felt similarly when trying to go in-house as a midlevel?

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I went in house as a 2nd year and had no idea whatsoever what I was doing. The best advice my GC gave me when I started was “it’s okay to say you don’t know the answer, actually it’s preferable. I hired you because you seem to know when you don’t know the answer to something and by the way sometimes there is no “correct” answer, which is oddly enough the “correct” answer sometimes.” My GC has been there when I needed to ask questions, pointed me to outside counsel when needed, and has trusted me to figure things out. My experience is there is some guidance in house, but nothing like a firm. That said, if you like solving business and unique legal issues together with your client(s) instead of laying out options it’s a great place. Pay is less but it’s very fulfilling imo.

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4th year following, feel like my first move should be to a bigger company with a more substantial legal department for this reason.

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Kind of. I was more senior, but transitioned to a new practice area that I wasn’t super familiar with. What type of firm are you at now and what type of role are you taking? In most instances I don’t think an additional few of years of firm seasoning will help much, except to the extent you’ll have more confidence in your abilities. That is to say, you often won’t really get more transferrable skills, but you may be psychologically in a better place to feel more confident with others.

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Yeah I view that as “judgment”, which in part comes from having responsibility and making decisions/mistakes on deals and seeing how they turn out. I do think that develops more quickly in law firms bc you are interacting with a wide variety of clients, risk tolerances, and very different situations on a daily basis. Unless you are at a company with really diverse RE holdings and lines of business you won’t get that much exposure. I went in house as a 9th-year and am glad I waited that long. I was mostly M&A but carved out a space for myself to be “outside GC” for smaller startup clients one of the partners brought in and consciously developed generalist skills to advise on commercial agmts, leases, equipment financings, basic employment law stuff, etc. to better position myself for generalist in-house roles. If nothing else, it confirmed I had all the skills necessary to make it in biglaw and I think I would have had insecurities about not being able to hack it if I left sooner. In turn that would have complicated my relationships with outside counsel and faith in my own judgment if I disagreed with outside counsel’s opinion. Spoiler alert: law firm lawyers work hard and can give good substantive work within their speciality, but many give crappy, risk-averse practical advice and are unimaginative problem solvers. If I didn’t develop those skills as a senior associate with responsibility at a law firm I wouldn’t be as able to discern when outside counsel is hedging or understand what better practical course of action is. But if OP is just gonna do leases for 5 more years, better chance to develop broader knowledge and skills in-house.

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If you can issue spot and ask the right questions, you can do it. I made the jump 2 years in and it was fine. I had to learn a lot about the business the first year and after that it was smooth. If you want this, you can do it.

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I did not feel that way when I applied to in house positions as a fifth year, but when I went in house earlier this year as a ninth year I understand your fear. Are you a litigator by chance? How big is the legal department and who would you report to?

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For context, at a big law firm — doing real estate work. The opportunity is also in real estate. Legal department is about ~5 people — GC at the top.

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There is nothing mystical about the law, whether at a firm or in house. Big firms do their best (intentionally and unintentionally) to make it seem like you, as an associate, are worthless without some 60 year old greybeard leading a deal or case. It’s BS. Transitioning to in house does involve a learning jump, but the uncertainty you’re feeling is mostly in your head. Many of the big rainmakers at firms now were taking lead roles in complex matters as junior and mid level associates, because that’s how things were done in the 70s. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs were changing the world by 30. Don’t worry and embrace your new role with passion. Biglaw sows its associates with self doubt and criticism where it isn’t deserved.

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I’m going in-house as a 3rd year. I start in 3 weeks. It’s an 8 person legal department but I’ll be doing the type of work I’ve been doing since I started at the firm. I wasn’t concerned before seeing this post, but maybe I should be??

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There’s no secret lease provisions the law firm shows you when you reach year six. Would you be the only person working on RE stuff in-house? If there’s someone more senior above you you’d be learning from them. I would take it if only bc RE should only be one arrow in your quiver and hopefully in house you’ll have a chance to do more than just RE work.

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