Two months ago, I not only walked away from Biglaw (and my dreams of making shareholder), I walked away from my law firm family – who had seen me through big stages in my life, from engagement and marriage to Baby O.
Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that it was not an easy decision, and it is one that I may still contemplate for years to come…if only for the sole reason that it was one of those “crossroad” decisions – one that changes the outcome in your Choose Your Own Adventure (with no ability to cheat by holding your place and flipping back the pages).
In light of the big transition from law firm to in-house, I have fallen off of most things in life except for work and family (including this blog – sorry!), and I’ve only now started socializing again. With this re-entry into the world, I have received the same question over and over again:
Is the grass really greener?
Before I answer, I need to cue the disclaimers. This is only my personal experience. I have only been in-house 8 weeks. And I work for a financially stable company with a collaborative culture that is invested in doing the right thing with the resources to do so.
With that being said, my answer is a resounding YAAAAAAAAS!
The biggest difference for me has been the lack of billable hours. I really had no idea what a dark cloud it was on my life until it was lifted. I didn’t realize how absent I was as a friend, a daughter, a sister, a mom and perhaps, I am most ashamed of how absent I was as a wife. Not having billable hours has allowed me to truly enjoy and be present for Baby O, the hubs and my family. I can spend time with them without constantly checking my phone and worrying about “making up” my billables later. I am no longer resentful because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but I really think this in-house transition has saved my marriage and will allow me to be a better mom – perhaps simply because I’m a happier person.
Other things I love:
- The teamwork on big, meaningful projects. This is a nod to what I loved about being so involved in bar association work (Shout out DAYL!). How I can be a small part of an idea that is brought to fruition.
- Being able to take time to really analyze and think through an issue without worrying if I’m taking too long
- Being able to read lots of cases and geek out on legal blogs and podcasts without worrying about wasting time – because the more knowledge I have, the better I can counsel my client
- Being able to get to know my colleagues and my client without silently logging in my mind that the conversation we just had was a non-billable .40 – which I’ll have to make up later.
Things I already miss about Biglaw (or at least the firm I left):
- My law firm family – from my mentors to my fellow associates to our staff. I am not sure if there is any substitute for the strong bonds formed when you are in the trenches together and work so many long hours together.
- The legal resources – from the subject matter experts to all the books and treatises and the 50 states surveys
- Having my own office in a high-rise with a beautiful view of downtown Dallas
- Having an administrative assistant
I don’t want to leave the impression that there aren’t any cons to going in-house. For example, I have to travel at least once a month, and being away from O is hard. At least I’m not pumping anymore. But at the end of the day, this has been the best decision I’ve made for my family. As cheesy as this sounds, I am excited about the work I’m getting to do, and the best part is that I don’t have to take it home with me, which makes it a little easier for me to be a working lawyer mommy.