What is it like to be an In-House Lawyer?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in-house? Becoming a Legal Counsel is a highly sought-after role for our lawyers, with talent approaching us from a wide range of sectors – Employment, Commercial, Corporate, Property, Construction, Planning, and Development to name just a few – all looking to make that move from Private Practice to in-house.

But what is it really like to work in-house?

I reached out to Stacey Edgley, an Employment Solicitor, who I recently placed with FDM Group, to find out more about the realities of working in-house, and what her experience of working with me, and Harvey John as a whole, was like, and she gave us the inside scoop on in-house life.

 

What turned you away from working in Private Practice?

I have always had a desire to transfer to working in-house. I worked in-house when I was gaining experience early in my career. I began to feel a disconnect from clients and I was frustrated with the onus on billing. 

What drew you towards in-house, as opposed to freelance or consultant work?

I wanted to feel a part of the business and be embedded within the company and the legal team. I wanted to understand how the business worked and to get involved with all aspects. 

What does your typical day-to-day look like now you’ve moved in-house?

No two days are the same.  I primarily advise on employment matters across the UK and EMEA, but I am also involved with commercial contracts. I can be advising on a corporate contract for part of the morning, then a disciplinary before lunch; I could be asked an opinion on a matter within our business in the Netherlands and then finally our operations would require some immigration assistance. 

I have frequently used the phrase ‘I would have never got to do this in Private Practice!’

How did you find the transition from Private Practice to in-house?

Brilliant. It took a while to slow down. In Private Practice, I was used to working with pace and urgency all the time – how much I can bill in a day/week/month and hitting my targets.

In-house, there is a level of service that I need to ensure I am delivering to the business, but I can balance that need with discussing what is right for the business, rather than a one size fits all approach. I can concentrate on providing advice and ensuring I am helping promote the business, rather than spending my time writing attendance notes, time-recording and due diligence.

What have you particularly enjoyed about working in-house?

My team and getting to know the various stakeholders across the business. I talk to every part of the business across the UK and EMEA, as well as across APAC and North America.

And, putting this delicately, what has been less enjoyable about working in-house? What are some of the struggles or drawbacks that you’ve noticed?

I can be asked my opinion on everything legal or not. Trying to manage the volume of queries, whilst trying to maintain approachability is a difficult skill to master!

What does progression look like for an in-house role? And how does progression compare to working in a Private Practice?

It is my progression. I am not competing against my peers. I would like to progress to Regional General Counsel, and perhaps Global General Counsel, but there is room across the business for more than one!

How do you find the flexibility of in-house roles? Does it differ at all from working in Private Practice?

I was lucky enough that in my firm, we had a lot of discretion, but there still was a level of ‘showing up’. 

In my new team, the expectations are hybrid. Three core days in the office, and two days at home. However, within the department, we can manage this between us, and we are very flexible to fit our home life with our work. 

If it’s not too cheeky of me to ask, how does salary compare between in-house and Private Practice?

My current salary is comparable, with a slight increase. However, I can progress and earn more than I was able to in Private Practice. 

Could you see yourself ever returning to Private Practice?

No. 

 

Stacey’s resounding and firm answer says it all; it appears that working in-house really is everything it’s cracked up to be. But what of the realities of finding a job through Harvey John, and working with me? 

 

How did you first hear about Harvey John?

I was recommended to Hayley by an ex-colleague who worked at the same firm, who Hayley had recently secured a role for. 

So, what was your situation when you approached Harvey John? What were you hoping for when you approached us?

I was working in a Private Practice firm, part-time. I wished to work full-time once my children were both at school and my end goal was to move in-house. I did not aspire to be a Partner in a Private Practice firm; I wanted to join a company and be a part of the business. 

You contacted Harvey John before you were looking to move roles. What prompted you to reach out at this point?

I contacted Hayley around 12 months before I was able to go full-time. I knew that in-house Employment roles were rare and I wanted to be able to find the “right job” and not “any job”. 

I’d love to hear about what your experience was like as you worked with me to find the right role:

I contacted Hayley initially not really knowing what to expect. I was given a recommendation from a colleague who had made the same move, and she highly recommended Hayley as someone that would be able to help me. I had spoken to recruitment consultants before, and my expectations were that they would just provide me with anything and everything. 

Hayley really took the time to get to know me and what I wanted. She suggested we touch base again 4 months later, to see whether I still wanted the same things and to see how the market was. Hayley followed through with her promises. She took the time to understand me as a person and the possible opportunities were ones that she could see me doing, rather than just any opportunity. 

Hayley really got to know the potential employer as well, so she was able to give me a lot of information, not only about the company but about the people working for the company. 

And just for a bit of constructive feedback for me, is there anything you’d like us to do more of?

No ‘I literally cannot fault Hayley. I would recommend her to anyone.

A massive thank you to Stacey for taking the time to answer all my questions! I wish you every success with your career with FDM and look forward to watching you flourish.

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Join us for more Spotlight Interviews; get inspired by our interviewees as they share their career journeys, personal stories and tips for success.

Hayley Rose is the Head of Legal at Harvey John. 

To receive expert advice on how to get the best out of your Legal career, and to find opportunities, both In-House and Private Practice, across the South East and beyond, you can contact Hayley Rose at 07989 301 527 or via email at hayley@harveyjohn.com.

 
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