How do I move in-house as a lawyer or paralegal?

Part of our series: A guide to moving in-house as a lawyer

In-house jobs are out there, but they can be tricky to track down for a number of reasons. Positions are often released on an exclusive basis to specific recruiters, or sometimes jobs are never even advertised, so some tried and tested methods of finding out about in-house contract opportunities are as follows:

For associates and senior paralegals:

– A common way of finding out if working in-house is for you, increasing your marketability to other in-house teams, and extending your networks for future positions is as a trainee at a firm on secondment to a client. Since many in-house teams offer secondments to private practice lawyers, especially those “to which the firm provides legal services”, it is always worthwhile seeking a secondment opportunity whilst in a private practice role. This is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of the commercial context of legal practice, extend relationship networks, develop client relationships, and increase the possibility of joining the organisation at the end of the secondment.

– Related to the previous point, one of the most effective ways of expanding in-house options is simple networking. From this perspective, you should use your own contacts and approach clients past and present in addition to former classmates and co-workers who left private practice, current in-house lawyers, and even partners in your law firm regarding possible in-house openings.

– Although few and far between compared to private practice roles, there are a number of in-house job opportunities currently live on Route1 . Once you download the app, you will be notified when new job matches arise. You can always combine Route1 with other sources such as recruitment consultants and traditional job boards. However, it’s important to remember that in-house roles tend to have a surfeit of quality candidates, and some recruiters have been known to use them to trawl candidates for their database. Therefore you need to be very precise in your instructions regarding what the recruiters should do with your CV and be sure to keep tabs on which organisations they approach on your behalf.

For junior paralegals and students:

– In-house training contracts are also available, with the benefits of training as a lawyer at the same time as developing business skills, being involved with management and organisational decision-making, and having first-hand experience of an organisations’ disparate legal operations. However, finding out about opportunities may take time, and it may necessitate a large amount of enquiries since employers tend not to advertise trainee positions very widely. According to the Guardian, around 500 companies are authorised to offer training contracts and competition is intense, but you can obtain a list of authorised providers from The Law Society: inhouse@lawsociety.org.uk or more information from The Training Contract and Pupillage Handbook or The Chambers Student Guide (available in law libraries or careers offices). It is also suggested to do plenty of online research for in-house training contracts, directly with companies or on graduate careers sites, go to in-house teams’ presentations  at universities, read the legal press, or simply inquire directly with companies’ legal departments (rather than the HR department) regarding possible vacancies.

You can read our other tips for lawyers considering moving in-house here:

Overview of the in-house legal jobs market

Why and when should I move in-house as a lawyer or paralegal?

– Special feature: In-house lawyers and legal privilege

Route1 is an award winning marketplace for legal talent. For any questions, please contact our Engagement Team or visit our Contact Us page for more information.


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