It’s a funny world, isn’t it?
At least once a day, I speak to a private practice lawyer who wants to go in-house. Around three times a week I speak to an in-house lawyer who wants to work in private practice.*
The broad perception is that in-house lawyers have an easier life and work less hours but get paid more. The flip side is that private practice lawyers have a license to bill and therefore earn as much as they can by fitting thirty hours into twenty-four. I’m writing this with my tongue definitely embedded in my cheek, but there is a little bit of truth to it.
I see the legal career path as a big field in the countryside (for my friends who have never been to countryside, think of Downton Abbey or The Crown). As a lawyer deciding on where you want to work, you have this big field and you have your choice of where you want to sit.
So where do you have your picnic? Let me take you back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
- Physiological needs – Food, shelter, clothes
- Safety – security, employment, health, property
- Love and belonging – relationships, connections, intimacy
- Esteem – respect, self-esteem, status etc..
- Self actualisation – being the best you can be, achieving the most you can achieve.
So applying this to choosing your patch….to get your physiological needs you need to go camping and eat berries or… get a job (leads to the second need). So your job needs to provide you with enough money to have the home, food and clothes you need (or want). You need to be happy outside of the office and have a good work-life balance. Then, it would nice to have a job where you get a pat on the back, high-five or fist bump whenever you deserve it. Once you’ve got all that, then you can become Managing Partner of GC.
So, for most people (myself included), the most important aspect is getting a job that pays the bills, mortgage or rent, keeps food in the fridge and clothes on your back.
Then…. get a job that means you have time for yourself, time for family and friends, enjoy a bit of the outside world…it’s quite pleasant out there!
If you’ve got all that then you can see if you can get a job where you want to go in the office because people like you and respect you. Helps you grow….which leads to…doing the best you can.
You probably won’t do the best you can unless you have a job that lets you grow through recognition. You won’t do this if you are unhappy outside work and certainly won’t be able to do this without getting paid enough to eat and sleep. Ultimately, you won’t be able to do this without a job that pays something.
That’s the formula to choosing your patch. Get a job, get paid, have a life, get rewarded for good work and be the best. I call this the Patch Choice Formula ©.
It makes no difference if you are in-house or in practice; the environment that’s best for you is down to what you need – you can find it in both places, you just have to choose carefully and think about what is really important.
Enjoy your patch!
*formulated by my memory and not detailed data analysis.