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In-house vs. Private Practice Myths and Solutions

Posted on February 2024

In-House vs Private Practice

There are many challenges and misconceptions associated with transitioning from an in-house legal role to a private practice. It is possible to experience valuable professional growth and fulfilment through the move, despite what some of the myths say. Here are some practical solutions for navigating these myths and the overall transition successfully.

Myth #1: In-house roles are less stressful than private practice

A common misconception is that working in private practice is inherently more stressful than working in a company. Despite the fact that private practice involves longer hours and greater pressure to bill clients, it is important to keep in mind that stress levels can differ depending on the practice area, the firm culture, and the individual's preferences.

Solution: Identify firms with supportive cultures that prioritize work-life balance and professional development before making the transition. Do your research and network with practitioners in your desired practice area before making the transition. Additionally, consider exploring alternative fee arrangements, such as value-based billing or fixed fees, which may alleviate some of the pressure associated with billable hour targets.

Find out more about in-house General Counsel recruitment.

Myth #2: In-house Experience Isn't Valued in Private Practice

Amid the evolution of legal practice, there has been a historical perception that in-house experience holds lesser value in private practice compared to traditional law firm experience. This viewpoint suggests that in-house attorneys may lack the same depth of expertise or exposure to complex legal matters as their counterparts in law firms. However, the reality paints a different picture. In-house experience can prove to be a valuable asset in private practice, particularly for firms specializing in corporate clientele. Attorneys working in-house cultivate a diverse skill set highly prized by law firms, encompassing adept client management, deep industry insight, and a strategic grasp of business imperatives. When transitioning to private practice, emphasizing these transferable skills becomes pivotal, showcasing how they can enrich the service provided to both clients and colleagues alike.

The landscape of legal recruitment has experienced notable shifts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, there has been a discernible increase in openness among law firms towards candidates with in-house backgrounds. This shift underscores a recognition of the nuanced expertise and perspective such individuals bring, further blurring the traditional boundaries between in-house and private practice realms.

Also explore what to look for as a employer when recruiting in-house Counsel talent.

Myth #3: A former in-house attorney has a hard time building a book of business

When transitioning to private practice, many attorneys worry about generating business and attracting clients, especially if they lack pre-existing contacts or experience in business development.

You may need to take an active approach to networking and marketing as a former in-house attorney to build a book of business. Start by leveraging your existing professional network, including former colleagues, clients, and industry contacts. You can attend networking events, join professional associations, and participate in online forums related to your practice. To enhance your expertise and credibility in your chosen field, consider pursuing additional training or certifications.

Myth #4: Career advancement opportunities are limited in private practice

In private practice, some attorneys believe that career advancement opportunities are limited compared to those in in-house roles.

It is important to recognize that there are many alternative career paths within law firms that do not involve the traditional partnership track. Some firms, for example, offer non-partnership tracks such as counsel and senior associate positions, which allow employees to gain more responsibility without pursuing equity partnerships. Explore leadership opportunities within practice groups or industry teams, where you can leverage your expertise and contribute to firm-wide initiatives.

Also explore our private practice compensation overview.


For attorneys seeking new challenges and growth opportunities, transitioning from in-house to private practice can be rewarding and fulfilling. You can navigate the transition successfully and position yourself for long-term success in your legal career by dispelling common myths and adopting practical solutions. Be sure to utilize your unique skills and experiences, seek out supportive environments, and keep an open mind about new learning and development opportunities. It is possible to succeed in private practice and achieve your professional goals if you have the right mindset and preparation.

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If you're seeking to onboard key talent who will make a significant impact within your organization,request a callback from our dedicated team. By partnering with Larson Maddox, you gain access to a vast network of exceptional regulatory & legal professionals who are eager to contribute their expertise to your company's success. Complete the form below to request talent today.