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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: February 2023 | Transition

Transitioning to an In-House Career

Michael L Goldblatt

Transitioning to an In-House Career

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Professor Eli Wald recently wrote a scholarly article for Fordham Law Review about the 200-year history of in-house legal careers. He notes that the current generation of in-house lawyers have gained in stature. He also extolls all lawyers to consider their responsibility to clients, the legal system, and the public interest.

Changing jobs can be risky when moving from a law firm to a corporation. Careers can be stymied by lack of advancement, job loss can result from corporate mergers, and new management can change the standing of in-house lawyers. Following are some tips and resources to help you transition to a successful career as an in-house counsel.


Advancement - confirm that the company provides adequate opportunity for advancement within the law department and management.

Assessment - assess the job and yourself to assure that you are a good fit for the position and the company.

Career - pursue employers that have established career paths (e.g., staff attorney, senior attorney, managing attorney, director, general counsel).

Networking - continuing your professional network with outside lawyers to share expertise, friendships, and career opportunities.

Industry - avoid cyclical industries that are prone to layoffs and salary freezes.

Professionalism - set aside time to take part in bar association programs and pro bono activities.

Timing - delay departure from your firm for several years after graduation to develop your legal knowledge and supervisory abilities.

Moving to a corporate law department can bring career satisfaction and financial rewards. Plan your move carefully to avoid career regret. Carefully study the industry and job requirements. Assess your abilities to decide whether they are a good fit for the role you will be doing in the new job. For more help, check the resources at the end of this article. Good luck with your career!


Clayton Christensen, What I Wish I'd Known: Moving In-House, Legal 500, Fall 2014

Jerome Doraisamy, What Does A Typical Day Look Like For In-House Counsel, Lawyers Weekly, Jan. 8, 2019.

Olga V. Mack , Understanding (And Thriving In) the Role Of An In-House Lawyer, Above the Law, Sep. 26, 2022.

Scott Pojunas and Ramya Possett, Successfully Transitioning to an In-House Career, Law Practice Today, Sep. 14, 2015.

Susan Peppercorn, Switching Jobs? Here's How to Make Sure You Won't Regret It, Harvard Business Review, May 18, 2022.

Anne Smith and Alexa Baltodano, Is An In-House Counsel Job Right For You, A Guide For Law Grads, Intellectual Property Lawyer, Dec.18, 2017.

Eli Wald, Getting In And Out Of The House: The Worlds, Big Law, And Emerging Career Trajectories Of In-House Lawyers, Fordham Law Review, April 2020.


Steven Lovett, Corporate Counsel Basics, ABA Publishing, Jan 23, 2013.

William Kruse, The Corporate Counsel Survival Guide, ABA Publishing, Apr. 9, 2019.

Sterling Miller, Ten Things You Need to Know as an In-House Counsel, ABA Publishing, May 4, 2017.

Sterling Miller, Ten More Things You Need to Know as an In-House Counsel, ABA Publishing, Oct. 29, 2019.

Sterling Miller, Showing the Value of the Legal Department: More Than Just a Cost Center, ABA Publishing, 2022.


BCBG Attorney Search, Frequently Asked Questions About In-House Counsel Jobs, YouTube, Dec. 12, 2019.

Crafty Counsel, How to Be An Effective In-House Counsel, Law Society of England and Wales, Sep. 11, 2018.

Federalist Society, Working In-House Perspectives from Corporate Counsel, Feb. 10, 2022.


American Bar Association

Association of Corporate Council

National Association for Law Placement  

ABA Young Lawyers Division