Why in-house trickle may become a flood

It may not offer a better work-life balance, but the GC life is tempting lawyers

For many private practice lawyers the pull in-house is often based on the belief it offers some relief from the daily grind.

Not so, research by professional services firm Towers Watson suggested last week, triggering debate among our readers. One suggests the idea that an in-house job offers a better work-life balance is just that – an idea.

“The tip towards in-house is that you understand your client better, become part of the business and your workload can be much more flexible,” says Brian Chadwick, who spent more than a decade in the City before joining Miniclip as general counsel.

Many in-housers would agree.

“Lawyers are typically made up of people who excelled at school and were always outcome-focused,” Chadwick continues.

But the pay gap is closing. Towers Watson says that with associates taking longer to get into partnership salaries, in-house are catching up, while many firms are moving away from lockstep towards meritocratic salary scales.

Increasingly, top lawyers are being attracted in-house. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Konstantin Mettenheimer was not alone last week (see above). In the following days Deutsche Bank hired Clifford Chance corporate partner Daniela Weber-Rey as chief governance officer and deputy global head of compliance in Germany, and BHP raided Herbert Smith Freehills for its general counsel, Geoff Healy.

If this trend continues, firms will forced to step up their endeavours in the battle for talent.