Solicitor TTC private practice or in house?

(11 Posts)
Almondbiscotti Tue 10-May-16 20:04:30

I am 30 and coming up to 4 years pqe. I am looking to TTC in 18 months time. I have been at my current firm for 3 years pqe; and the seniors above me are 3 female partners part time and there are 4 juniors beneath me so there is a degree of support and goodwill earnt there.

Do not know whether to stay put and TTC at current place or to take an offer in house where my commute would be 20-40mins by car (traffic depending) and my City salary matched (no bonus though) but hours would be consistently 9-5pm with occasional travel to other UK offices OR stay put where I commute over an hour and 20 mins each way and sometimes find myself leaving not before 6.30/7pm at the earliest so home often between 8 and 9pm (on a good day). Seniors with children all work part time but appear frazzled juggling it all.

New in house role would have greater degree of responsibility (less support staff) and I have no idea what maternity rights I would have (don't dare to ask!) OR their attitude towards family life other than the FD moved their herself as she had started a family and they offer work from home, flexi work and dont clock watch people arriving (so she said). Difference is that I would be looking to TTC there so not start there with a family.

I know the general rule of thumb is that in-house places are better for family and work life balance but the prospects can be limited/narrowed down for future move. (I am in a niche area).

Just can't make my mind up to leap now whilst I could put 18 months in to earn some goodwill and take the risk re maternity or wait and have kids in private practice and make move later when may be harder to juggle kids and career change.

Right I have bubbled enough so over to you good people!

Almondbiscotti Tue 10-May-16 20:07:56

I should add that OH is unlikely to be able to help with childcare in long term as he is in transactional area of law in the City so a bit frustrating!

Londonbased87 Tue 10-May-16 21:15:57

Sheryl Sandberg describes this as the early Lean Out (i.e. making negative career decisions way in advance of when you have to!) and you have to think about what you are doing, and why you've not mentioned your partner in the above post.

I am not a lawyer, but from my friends I believe that the opportunities to go in house remain as you get more senior and become broader, whereas an early move in house is difficult to undo. You are clearly in a great position where you are. Good luck!

Silverine08 Wed 11-May-16 06:38:40

I am a lawyer (well ex now!) and in my latest role have worked with a large number of in-house legal teams. My experience of in-house (and of course your company may be different) is that the nature of the work has changed considerably over the last5 years or so. I didn't meet any in-house lawyers who genuinely worked 9-5 and most were under pressure to prove value to the business. That said, most people enjoyed the opportunity to be more commercial and become sector specialists.

On the TTC point, I'm sure you know that you wont be entitled to enhanced mat rights unless you have been there a year.

The only other issue is what you want from your career. Do you want partnership or a GC role eventually? How much does money matter? To be honest, I don't think that it would be a career limiting move either way - there are lots of lawyers who go in-house and then back to pp.

Weigh up all the pros and cons and if I were you, I'd ask to have coffee with one of the in-house team to ask the questions you want an honest answer to.

Good luck!

tangerino Wed 11-May-16 06:53:24

Good advice above. As Silverine says, 9-5 in house is now extremely rare- I'm in private practice (PT) and do lots of work with/for clients' in house teams, and they work as late as I do. So I would do what you can to make sure the hours are what you think before making any changes

Everything else being equal, what would you actually like to do? PP and in house work differ white s lot, in terms of how you'll be working, your role within the organisation etc. Both can be great but they tend to suit different people. (Big generalisation, but I find that good in house lawyers are tougher, more commercial, able to fight their corner.)

A third way- stay where you are to TTC, enjoy your enhanced maternity package, then come back and see how it goes? Do you need to make a decision now?

I wouldn't be frightened off staying in PP by the fact people above you seem a bit frazzled. Combkning work and parenthood is somewhat frazzling by definition. It's also incredibly rewarding.

The biggest risk I can see is that you switch to doing something you don't like do much and aren't so well suited to, and then find its still hard to juggle everything (which it will be).

tangerino Wed 11-May-16 07:34:56

PS don't discount your partner helping with childcare. Your post above effectively says, "should I change jobs in case my current job is incompatible with childcare? Btw my OH won't be helping at all because his job is incompatible with childcare" wink

Don't know your set up, obviously, so maybe it makes sense to prioritise his career, or maybe you simply want to be the one to take on more childcare (not knocking this- it's what I did). But don't do it just because it's just what people normally do X

Millionprammiles Wed 11-May-16 09:43:15

I don't know any lawyer who has worked longer hours in house than they did in private practice. That's not to say all in house roles provide a good work/life balance - many involve lots of travel - but you're simply not billing hours in the same way and the 'client' concept differs.

Personally I've found I can work fixed hours in house (so I'm guaranteed to do childcare pick ups) but with no home/flexi working (so no school drop offs/pick ups and child illnesses/med appts etc must be taken from emergency/annual leave). Think about what best fits your childcare constraints. The shorter commute is a definite bonus. An empathetic manager/colleagues will help enormously.

As others have said though I'd sit tight until after your next mat leave and see how it goes.

As for your OH...you both need to agree on who is going to be the prime earner and who will take the step back in their career. Alternatively you both take a step back and share the childcare more equally (dp and I do that).

MissTriggs Thu 12-May-16 21:41:22

Stay innocent a little longer, pick up as much experience as you can, stay put!

MissTriggs Thu 12-May-16 21:44:48

Sorry not meaning to be cynical

Stay put but adopt a mentality of getting as far as you can whilst life is still nice and simple

Btw you are not going to work9 to5 for a city salary don't believe them

Almondbiscotti Mon 16-May-16 08:55:30

Thanks all!

anniebambammie Fri 27-May-16 16:14:02

Bumping Almondbiscotti this is pretty much the same predicament I am in! AND my husband is also a lawyer.
Except I have one DD and am contemplating the next - move now and delay TTC or stay, take another mat leave etc. On paper the financially more sensible answer is obvious (stay) but I'm not sure I have it in me to do what I do now in a private firm for another few years! Someone above referred to "leaning out before you need to"- I think this is exactly what I'm doing, consciously, but I think I'm OK with that. The opportunity is there for me now, and I think it's a better move for our family long term.

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