Litigating In-House: Silver Linings and Clouds

Vol. 38 No. 3

Mark Herrmann is the vice president and chief counsel–litigation at Aon, Chicago. He is the author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law (ABA 2006).

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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