April 01, 2012

Litigating In-House: Silver Linings and Clouds

The author shares the reasons a lawyer might--or might not--prefer an in -house position to that of a litigator at a law firm.

Mark Hermann

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Authors who write for Litigation tend to think about litigation. Articles examine trials, evidence, procedure; taking and defending depositions; positioning cases for summary judgment motions; arguing appeals.

Much less frequently—hardly ever—do authors veer off topic and address fundamental career choices. Here’s one of those: What are the pros and cons of being a litigator at a law firm as opposed to being an in-house litigator at a corporation?

My credentials are these: I worked in law for 26 years—1 year as a law clerk, 5 at a small firm, and 20 at one of the world’s largest firms (including the past 18 as a partner)—before accepting an in-house position as the global head of litigation at a large corporation, a job I’ve now held for 2 years.

And here’s why I’ve set fingers to keyboard: Someone should share with the world the reasons a person would—or would not—prefer life in-house to life outside.

Still, this is a tricky article to write. The truth is I’m basically easy. I liked clerking. I liked working at a small firm. I liked working at a big firm. And I like what I’m doing now.

I’m not anxious to heap scorn on either what I did before or what I’m doing now, and it wouldn’t be accurate for me to do so. But it does seem as though someone who’s lived both lives might provide a service to the profession by explaining the true differences between those career choices.

So here goes.


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