Well, Thanksgiving snuck up on us pretty quickly! It seems like each year goes by a bit faster and it’s increasingly difficult to stop and be present in the moment. That’s always a challenge for me, at least.
So, in an effort to take a step back and reflect on what’s been a very busy personal and professional year for me, I thought I’d list five of the reasons why I’m particularly thankful right now to be practicing as in-house corporate counsel instead of in a law firm:
I’m thankful that I don’t have to bill my time.
I’ve said this before a bunch of times here at Dollar Barrister, but I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am not to be billing hours. Yes, there are drawbacks to being a corporate cost center, but at this stage of my career I think the pros outweigh the cons. I can take my time (within reason) to become an expert on the issues I’m working through, and when things slow down I’m not trying to squeeze billable blood out of a rock. I’m able to prioritize some long-term projects and feel like I’m getting to a point in my career where I am speaking and negotiating from a position of strength thanks to the time I can devote to unraveling complex issues. And I can do that without worry about my billables for the month or whether my time will get cut because I spent too long working through them.
I’m thankful for getting to work so closely with the business.
This has been another frequent theme of my posts here at Dollar Barrister. I think the experience I’m getting in the trenches of my company’s legal department is invaluable. I haven’t completely ruled out returning to a law firm at some point. So what I’m learning being embedded with the business is, from my perspective, priceless in terms of the advice I’ll be able to give in the future if I do choose to become a law firm lawyer once again.
I’m thankful for work-life balance and getting to spend time with my family.
My current employer is basically agnostic about where and even when we work, and I take advantage of that flexibility by moving around between offices in our local geographic region and working from home as much as I can.
At times this is difficult – the line between work and personal life can become very blurry if you’re not being careful about it – but it’s worth the challenge if it means getting to have breakfast and dinner with my family and taking my kids to school most of the time.
Plus, those extra thirty minutes we get reading stories or working on math problems together will add up over time. I’m so thankful I get to spend those moments with them instead of sitting in traffic or on a bus or a train. I don’t think I would get this same level of flexibility in private practice – I certainly did not as a law firm associate. So I try to keep that in mind when I’m inevitably reminded of my rank in the corporate pecking order.
I’m thankful that I get to travel more frequently than I ever did as a law firm associate.
Again, maybe it would be different this time around as a more senior lawyer in private practice, but it seems like I do get to travel much more these days than my peers in law firms. And my destinations – while not entirely sexy – are usually major domestic cities where our company has an office rather than the location for a federal district court in the middle of flyover country (not that there’s anything wrong with flyover country.)
I also try and tack on a day or two here and there if I’m going somewhere where I have friends from college or law school, and that’s been a great way to keep up relationships with people I care about. And getting to go on these trips every couple of months or so keeps things fresh, balances out working from home, and is a great way to network and boost my internal profile in the company. A win all around, in my book.
I’m thankful for getting to launch and work on Dollar Barrister.
I really enjoy helping people who are interested in moving in-house. For so many reasons, I think in-house practice is a much better career path for most associates than toiling away in a law firm.
I’m proud of the articles and products we’ve launched here at Dollar Barrister in 2018, and I think we are making a difference in lawyers’ lives who are unhappy in a firm and looking for a way out. So I hope you’ll stick with us as we move into 2019 – we’ve got a lot of great content and more products planned for you. Stay tuned!
(I actually realized I wrote a similar article nearly 18 months ago when I first started this site so it was kind of neat to look back at my top five list from back then, and how it’s changed as of Thanksgiving 2018.)
I hope you and your family and friends have a great Thanksgiving holiday!