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Making the move In-House

Written by: Charlotte Williams, Chadwick Nott
Published on: 28 Feb 2024

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By Charlotte Williams
Associate Director / Legal Recruiter
Chadwick Nott


According to The Law Society, in-house practice “is the fastest growing sector in the legal profession”. Lawyers working in-house make up around 25% of the solicitors’ profession.

During the last decade we have seen considerable growth in the number of lawyers working in-house coupled with an increasing trend for companies to appoint their first in-house counsel. This growth has been even more evident in the regions in both commerce & industry and ‘not for profit’ & charitable organisations.

The economic climate, broader pressure on costs, high levels of industry competition, implications of Brexit and the high demand for commercial lawyers have all accelerated this further. It is also interesting to note that many leading commercial law firms have responded to this trend by investing in, and developing, their own interim lawyering offering, allowing lawyers to be seconded to industry clients on a short-term basis. Pinsent Masons (Vario), Eversheds (Konexo), Simmons & Simmons (Adaptive) and Lawyers on Demand have been particularly effective at this.

Whilst there are increasing number of lawyers who train and qualify in-house, the majority of lawyers still start their career in practice and subsequently move in-house at a later stage. This can be a daunting decision to make, and I have highlighted the main points to consider below:


  • Better work life balance and more control over working hours. Generally, the working hours of an in-house lawyer will mirror the hours of the business. A constant stream of work across an in-house lawyer's desk allows them to plan their workload effectively and makes plans outside of work too!
  • Rich and varied ‘diet’ of work and the opportunity to develop new skills. Most in-house lawyers will manage a range of matters which may include commercial, corporate, governance, employment, litigation and property.
  • In-house roles offer the opportunity to learn about a particular industry sector or business, and potentially offer more diverse career opportunities. Greater exposure to finance (including managing a legal budget), supply chain and procurement are all examples of this, and can often allow lawyers to quickly move into senior boardroom jobs.
  • Moving away from the transitory nature of private practice and having more control to make decisions. Therefore, promoting more commercial decision making and removing the controls of billable hours can make the roles more varied and interesting.
  • The opportunity to build relationships with key stakeholders and to work as part of a team (inside and outside of the legal department). This in turn can lead to greater job satisfaction from being able to contribute to the strategy and commercial success of a business.


  • Pressure on cost and less resources. In-house teams are typically leaner and have less support compared to private practice.
  • In-house lawyers are often perceived as cost rather than driver of the business. Rather than directly generating revenue, an in-house lawyer will be a fixed cost who is potentially exposed to the performance of the business which may involve restructuring or relocation.
  • The life of an in-house lawyer can be isolating, especially if a sole legal counsel.
  • Career progression is often more limited with flatter structures and salaries often lower at the more junior end. Options can be limited compared to the typical structure offered in practice – associate, senior associate, partnership etc.
  • There are far fewer in-house training contracts available. Although we are starting to see a shift in this with businesses such as PWC, Vodafone, Barclays Bank and Amazon now offering training contracts.

So, what key attributes do employers look for when hiring an in-house lawyer?

Strong commercial acumen, confident decision-making skills, the ability to build relationships, agility, the ability to influence and strong communication skills are key. If you are a junior lawyer, look to make your experience as broad as possible by taking any secondments and gaining insight into a variety of industry sectors.

As the number of opportunities available in-house continue to rise, it is essential to evaluate whether a business provides you with the elements that you are looking for in your career. Consider the size of the team, the experience in the team, the work on offer, career prospects and the overall health of the business. Whether your future lies in-house or within practice, being informed will lead you to have a rich, rewarding and fulfilling career.


For a confidential discussion, please contact Charlotte Williams at Chadwick Nott.

(t) 0121 200 5577

(m) 0771 179 9761