We asked 80 in-house lawyers and legal ops teams about their careers in our 2021 Tech GC report. What do the findings show us? And how has enforced remote working influenced lawyers’ career journeys?

This is an excerpt from our 2021 Tech GC report, which explores the latest insights from legal leaders – covering everything from career development to the tech stack they use every day.

In our report, we discovered that 76 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with their current roles, or looking to remain and progress in-house, either with the same company, or elsewhere. This could be in part due to the flexibility they’ve been offered while working remotely, especially in the context of a high-growth scaleup that’s comfortable adopting new technology.

This is in line with the research we conducted in January 2021, which showed that 70 per cent of in-house lawyers would prefer to work remotely at least half of the time, which is often a more viable option at a dynamic scaleup than at a well-established corporation accustomed to a certain way of working.

Whatever the reason may be, lawyers are happy in their current roles, and have little interest in moving away from in-house.

Lawyers want to remain in-house 🏠

Interestingly, of the 80 lawyers surveyed, only 1 per cent chose the option of returning to private practice. 76 per cent of lawyers would prefer to stay in-house, 18 per cent would consider a non-legal role, and 5 per cent chose the ‘other’ category.

The nature of the in-house environment means that lawyers play a much more integral role in the business’ development and growth than perhaps they might in a law firm – and this is something our respondents seem to value. When asked specifically whether they would choose to move to an ALSP or into a freelance role, 51 per cent said yes.

The reasons the remaining 49 per cent of respondents cited for remaining in-house included:

  • Flexibility: “I’m a parent of two small children and my current position works well to accommodate this”

  • Influence: “I enjoy being in-house with direct influence and contribution to the business I am in” • Impact: “the in-house role is very powerful and I enjoy it”

  • Potential for growth: “there are still so many exciting things to achieve in my current role”

  • Variety: “I’m not interested in spending time with lots of other lawyers – at my job I get to collaborate with different people everyday”

  • Challenges and opportunities: “I love the challenge of growing a business from the inside and being part of the mission”

Moving beyond legal 👋

An interesting finding was that many respondents would consider roles outside legal – 18 per cent chose this option. This could also be a byproduct of lockdowns, which allowed for remote working and greater flexibility, opening lawyers up to the option of branching out.

More and more lawyers are looking at moving into operations, partnerships, or even becoming CEOs and founders. Lawyers are turning away from negative stereotypes rooted around the industry and moving towards an environment where legal is a strategic business partner instead. We asked some of our respondents, and some of the most influential people in the industry, about their legal careers.

One of the questions we asked was around how legal expertise helped former lawyers in their career progression. The answers we received included:

“My legal expertise taught me how to solve problems by negotiating and adapting, to collaborate and to create a consensus, as well as how to evaluate risk and to mitigate it. It is my legal expertise and skill that enabled me to create a unique, innovative consultancy model within a highly regulated environment and showed me how through the power of the law and the legal community we can make lasting change for the next generation”

– Janvi Patel, previously Chairwoman and Founder, Halebury

“Having legal expertise is useful for the COO role – it allows me to skirt the edge of taking risks on operational choices to move faster, because I know where it is legally. The legal training itself and time as a GC also helps in that partnering with other functions to enable them to do what they need to (rather than having your own agenda) is critical to a good in-house legal team”

– Emily Lincoln-Gordon, COO and previously General Counsel, Attest 

Read the full interviews and find out more about the latest insights from legal leaders – from career development to the tech stack they use every day – in the 2021 Tech GC report.