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This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

This week I have been interviewing some lawyers for some roles across sales, marketing, and course creator roles. I am interviewing lawyers who have worked in big law firms in the past, and those who have spent many years in litigation. A few of them were in-house counsels too. One interview particularly left an impact on me. 

It was with a lawyer who works in an in-house legal role. 

In job interviews, I always ask questions about what one does or did in the last job, and check whether the interviewee understands the business where he or she is operating or operated in the past. 

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If you do not know much about the business model in which you played a part, that says volumes about you. 

I meet law firm associates all the time who do not understand the business model of their law firms where they spend years working or the positioning of the practices they help to build. Even if they know their law well, they tend to have very little business acumen, perhaps by design as it prevents them from growing wings and flying away from the nest.

Most litigators have no clear understanding of the legal industry or any economic hypothesis about how they can build their careers. They are just blindly following the footsteps of the lawyers that have succeeded in the past, without accounting for the myriad ways in which the practice of law has completely changed. 

However, in-house counsels, in my experience, tend to have a much better understanding of the businesses they are hired to help. 

This gentleman, in particular, had none of the usual brands on his CV that would indicate that he is a top performer. He graduated from a college with an unrecognizable name. He worked in three different tech companies and could explain why each one is succeeding, and why they may fail someday. He had a complete grasp on each one’s business model, and he could explain how the legal department of each was different, and why that was the case.

In a 15 mins conversation, he taught me a lot of new things about in-house legal departments in tech companies.

That kind of clarity in lawyers about business and the role of lawyers in the same is a great sign. It is a sign of you being involved and clued in. It shows that you are not just some random cog in the wheel or a paper pusher, but someone truly adding value, having thought things through and involved in your job. 

It shows you are not just surviving your job, but actually enjoying it, and had the intelligence to think about the critical stuff.

It shows your ability to navigate upwards in your career. If you know what the system is and where you belong in the scheme of things, you can also figure out how to add more value to the system and therefore climb up further along. 

That is exactly what an entrepreneur does as well. It is a quality that I highly value in any lawyer, and it is quite rare.

But in-house counsels are way more likely to develop that quality than any other lawyers. And I believe that this alone gives them a massive advantage over other lawyers.

Law firm lawyers do not even begin to worry about this stuff until they make partner, or open their own firm in most cases. Many litigators do not develop it at all.

However, in the legal industry, if there is one skill we need more, that is this exact ability. We need more lawyers who do not only know the law but get how to make the business side of things work and can figure out how to step up their level of contribution. 

In this regard, in-house counsels have an unfair advantage, and they are, for this reason, often far more satisfied with their jobs.

No wonder that many lawyers want to shift to in-house legal from law firms and litigation. However, there are some other reasons too. Let’s explore them.

Why in-house counsel jobs are becoming highly attractive

Higher job satisfaction

Not all lawyers want to live in a world of arguments, precedences and pleasing judges. Some draw satisfaction from being involved in a business, by investing in a growing organization through their skills, and by helping a business to grow.

I know a lawyer who reduced the costs of pending litigations in a certain company by 30% in 3 months by installing an MIS system that did not exist before.

He had to learn excel and management skills he never had before that, and he went out of the way to acquire the right skills to be able to pull this off. He takes immense pride in that fact.

He did not have to wait to become the General Counsel or Legal Head to do so. He submitted a proposal and it was accepted. He was then given the opportunity to work on the same. He would rarely get the opportunity to do such things in a law firm even if he was a partner.

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Your job satisfaction is likely to increase if you can see your work helping the organization to grow, and when you get praised for your out-of-the-box thinking and execution. This happens a lot more in in-house legal teams than anywhere else.  

In-house teams are better managed

Many things that are par for the course in large law firms or litigation chambers are totally unacceptable in companies around the world. 

A massive problem that junior lawyers in law firms complain about is a weird culture of spending nights in the office. In the morning they are not given work, or if they submit work in the morning, they are made to wait the entire day for the work to get reviewed. Then, they would be asked to stay back in the office until the wee hours to finish the last moment’s work. 

I am yet to see a legal team in a company that could pull this off on a regular week. It is not that they never spend the night in the office, but there has to be some earth-shattering emergency, not a regular Tuesday in the office. If the legal head begins to call employees to the office every Sunday, it would not be seen as a great commitment to the firm, but frowned upon and explanation will be demanded by other senior leaders. 

I was called a slur by a lawyer I reported to while I was working in a law firm. The reason was that he was angry that I did not agree with his interpretation of a certain law.

When I reported to the HR, I did not get an apology, but the senior and his other reportees turned completely vindictive from that day.

It could happen in a company too, but companies are usually much better at managing such things. Toxic people do not get as long a leash in most companies. 

There are law firm partners whose entire team quit en masse every year, but they are still retained in the firm because of their billables. There are senior partners in law firms known to have molested or taken advantage of young women, and the firm would rather pay people off and hush up things rather than clean up the mess and kick such people out of the firm. 

You are far more likely to encounter a better work culture in a world-class company rather than in a top law firm.

Another area in which in-house legal teams lead law firms is the adoption of technology. In-house legal teams use cutting edge tech that makes their work more efficient, and digital transformation is a no brainer because the law cannot lag behind when all other parts of the business are adopting technology rapidly. That’s not the case with law firms. They believe that the value of legal services does not come from technology and therefore they are quite skeptical and often reluctant to change things from the way things used to be.

I hear that it is the case not just in India either. A law firm with the toxic work culture and tech phobia is probably a global phenomenon. 

Legal jobs are moving in-house

Recently a friend who runs a company came to me for some advice. His company enters into 20-30 contracts every month in different jurisdictions that require vetting and negotiation. When he realized he is paying too much to outside lawyers, he wanted to know how he can reduce his legal bills.

He was asking if he should hire someone on a retainership. I suggested to him to hire a full time in-house legal counsel. He did so. I helped him to pick a suitable lawyer with the right skillset. It worked out really well for him because the lawyer does not merely negotiate a few contracts, but also looks into his compliance which apparently needed urgent attention. 

There are two reasons why legal work is moving to in-house teams. One is definitely cost. It is far cheaper to do the regular legal work in-house and only outsource super-specialized once-in-a-while kind of work to law firms or outside lawyers who specialize in the same.

The other and the bigger reason is that outside lawyers do not take a wholesome view of the legal needs of a company. They are paid on a per assignment basis and they look only into a specific matter that they get paid for. Long term planning and risk management require a different kind of involvement. 

In-house counsels add value by apprehending the problems that may arise in the future and by nipping them in the bud or by reducing the risks as far as possible. 

Also, the business people in every company needs a reliable guide and advisor they can always turn to for ingenious solutions for their legal problems. 

This is making investing in in-house legal teams more attractive to businesses, and it is a better long term solution. 

For this reason, a lot of the new jobs that are getting created in the legal industry and not being created in law firms, but in in-house legal teams.

In-house counsels do more cutting edge work

There used to be a notion that in-house counsels are mere conduits between the company and the smarter lawyers working for law firms or arguing in the court. In-house counsels were mere managers. Not any more.

In most in-house legal teams, lawyers are doing heavy lifting and outsourcing very little to outside lawyers. For example, in-house lawyers cannot appear before courts. Earlier they will just hire a good lawyer and hand over the matter to a solicitor or a good arguing counsel. 

Now, they will not only research the law, draft the matter but also come up with a strategy, and merely ask the arguing counsel to implement the strategy they are providing and use the drafts they have come up with. 

In-house lawyers are also upgrading their knowledge to a level that they are giving law firm lawyers a run for their money. And they can afford to do so because they spend way more time on a given problem than a law firm lawyer ever can, given financial constraints.

In-house counsel salaries are rising

There was a time when law firms paid way more than anyone else. Companies did not even try to match law firm salaries.

Corporations have realized that having a good in-house legal team is a competitive advantage in business, and they are not shying away from allocating good budgets to their legal teams. They would rather pay their in-house teams well and prevent problems from arising rather than pay through the nose to outside law firms for an avoidable crisis.

They are hiring top law firm partners and giving them even better packages. Salaries in many in-house teams are now more attractive than even top law firms. 

Here is something for you to do, just visit and check out how much people are getting paid for legal manager roles in companies.

Interestingly, most jobs pay above 6 lakhs, and more than 30% jobs available there pay above 10 lakhs.


Let me also point out that I do not expect most of the top jobs to be even get posted in Law recruiters rarely post in This is just to show you the kind of demand there is for in-house legal experts at any given moment and that there are more well-paid jobs than poorly paid ones, even in

How to get the most attractive in-house legal jobs

I am going to tell you more in the coming days about in-house legal jobs and how to get one if you are interested. So keep reading these emails. Here is a course where we help lawyers to prepare for in-house legal roles, and we have helped hundreds of in-house lawyers already to rapidly acquire skillsets that help them to stand out and outperform their competition.

Here are other courses you can enroll in at present, definitely check them out:


Diploma in Business Laws for In House Counsels

Diploma in Companies Act, Corporate Governance and SEBI Regulations


Certificate Course in Advanced Corporate Taxation

Certificate Course in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Certificate Course in Advanced Civil Litigation: Practice, Procedure and Drafting

Certificate Course in National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Litigation

Certificate Course in Arbitration: Strategy, Procedure and Drafting

Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skill.

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