Moving in house from practice - let the expert guide you

By James Midlane

Published Date: 2020/03


Moving on In: From Private Practice to In-House Counsel.


While popular media portrays lawyers as living the high life, the reality for many attorneys can often be very different. Once articles have been completed and the bar passed, many attorneys find that private practice isn’t what it is cracked up to be and start to look at In-House counsel as an alternative option. While there are certain aspects of being in-house that make it more appealing than private practice, there are still certain things one needs to consider before making the move.


Defining the Role

Like any new role understanding, the finer details is important. From an in-house perspective, it is important to understand what exactly the role entails. Is it part of an existing legal team? If so, how big is the team? Will there be junior lawyers reporting into the role? Who does this role report to? 

For multi-national companies, it is important to understand what jurisdictions the role covers. Does the role only require an understanding of local legislation, or will it require knowledge of international law? As technology opens the market for more companies to do business on an ever-increasing international front, understanding of more than just local legislation is becoming more and more important.


Maintain Objectivity and be a cost-saving resource

It is important to remember that your role is to provide legal advice to the business, regarding any decisions made by the business, whether it is changing in policy, growth, moving into different sectors.

You need to maintain your objectivity to the law and while the advice may not be what the executives want to hear, it is far better to provide correct legal counsel.

What you must remember is that as a Counsel, your job is to drive legal costs out of the business so there is less reliance on spending on external law firms.

This means that your hours may not be quite what you expected, but you will potentially be closer to the business so, therefore, have a different lens each day.


Skills Development

While companies hire in-house counsel for their legal expertise, understand that there will be aspects of the job that will be new to you and there will be new skills you will need to develop. Many lawyers use the opportunity of an in-house role to develop their business knowledge and skills. This provides the opportunity to open more doors for career development.  While it may seem daunting at first, use the opportunity to upskill and develop yourself.

While the world of In-house counsel may seem like a good alternative from the world of private practice, it does come with its own set of challenges. 

However, like any change in career, those that embrace those challenges thrive.  


If you want to talk to me about In-House opportunities in Africa, email me on I have 9 years of experience of recruiting for corporates across Africa, so I am well placed to help you.