Misconceptions of In-House Lawyers

In the last 15 years for in-house counsel, "the days have gotten longer, the sophistication of the work has increased," according to Jason Sussman, General Counsel at Lubrizol.  Sussman, along with Sunny Nixon, Senior Corporate Counsel, Unity Project, and Edward Blakemore, Assistant General Counsel, Rockwell Automation, were our 3 amazing panelists at the March 1, 2018 Nimble Forum: Building the Modern General Counsel.  The conversation at the Forum was so insightful and covered many areas including, what being an in-house lawyer is really like.  Sussman added, "[We are] looking for partner quality work/work-ethic [in an in-house environment]. If an applicant wants to reset their work-life balance,  they need to re-calibrate [their expectations of an in-house position]."

Here are some other key insights from our panelists:

  • Sunny Nixon: in-house is not a 9 to 5 job.  "I knew at quarter end, my company owned me."  When looking for an in-house counsel position, "look for a fit to your core values—you’re going to be working hard, make it worthwhile."


  • Edward Blakemore:  "If you want to be one of the best and get promoted, you’re not going to have a 9 to 5 schedule. It really depends on what you’re looking for from your career.  Law firm-you were in the office. In-house, you do have more flexibility."


  • Jason Sussman:  "In-house, there is a unique demand to be a business partner.  If you just want to be an Subject Matter Expert, in-house may not fit.  In-house lawyers are asked to do much more outside of their core competencies."   You are not going to get away from difficult clients by going in-house.  "You may have “difficult” clients that never go away, and are right down the hall."

These insights from our panelists are so spot on with our recent post "The 7 Myths of Going In-House" and tie well into our recent Nimble Lawyer Happiness Survey Results.  Find out whether law firm lawyers or in-house lawyers are happier.

If you're thinking of exploring a move in-house, contact us, we've been helping legal professionals open doors to possible in-house positions.