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Why Going In-house May Be a Bad Decision
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Harrison Barnes explores why transitioning from a law firm job to an in-house position may be a terrible move.

Summary: Harrison Barnes explores why transitioning from a law firm job to an in-house position may be a terrible move.

In a new article, “Why Going In-house is Often the Worst Decision a Good Attorney Can Ever Make,” Harrison Barnes explains why making the move from a law firm to an in-house position may be one of the worst career moves attorneys can make.


Although many attorneys are praised by law firm partners and are told that they will be missed once they start their new in-house position, Barnes posits that this is because of one simple fact: the attorney may send them business in the future. This is why many attorneys who leave for in-house positions are thrown nice going away parties, but attorneys who are leaving for other firms or for government positions are not, according to Barnes.

Barnes also explains that going in-house does not always make attorneys happy, even if they have been stressed out by the long hours at their firm jobs. Many attorneys within firms daydream about going in-house. However, attorneys should beware of these individuals—they may simply be trying to get rid of the competition.

Why is Barnes so against going in-house? Attorneys are valued by how many hours they work and how much business they have. Attorneys in firms work by the billable hour and generate business for the firm; attorneys in in-house positions do not. When an attorney has a large book of business, that attorney can generally work in any firm he or she wants.

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Attorneys’ skills may deteriorate when they go in-house as well, since the biggest assignments will be sent to outside law firms.

Additionally, in-house attorneys may become an expense for the company instead of a position that generates business—meaning that they may be cut when hard times hit the company.

Barnes also explains that it is nearly impossible to go back to a law firm after practicing in-house because these attorneys have left “the game.” Some attorneys, such as corporate attorneys and tax attorneys, are usually able to go back to the firm. It all depends on the field of law. Additionally, most firms want to hire a new attorney with fresh skills as opposed to an in-house attorney.

In in-house positions, attorneys are often the bearers of bad news to the rest of the company—what they cannot do, what is going wrong, and the like. Because of this, Barnes reports that many attorneys feel isolated in in-house positions.

To read the article about the harsh reality of in-house work in its entirety, click here.

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