Top tips for moving in-house

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If you’re a private practice lawyer looking for an in-house role, the jobs market is competitive. Read our top tips on how to secure yourself a move.

Put yourself forward for secondments

If you can manage to secure a secondment with one of your clients, this can give you a massive advantage. The reality is that the in-house environment is completely different to private practice, so any knowledge you have of this way of working will be to your favour. Sector-specific experience is by no means essential but is an even bigger tick in the box for employers and helps to reassure them that you will make the transition in-house more smoothly.

Broaden your experience

Employers look for CVs that highlight versatility, so try to broaden your skills as much as possible. They really value commercial experience and knowledge of other legal disciplines (e.g. litigation), so make sure you highlight this when you apply for in-house jobs. If you are a corporate lawyer, make sure that your CV is not a list of pure transactional work. It's important that any advisory elements are also highlighted. 

Employers look for CVs that highlight versatility, so try to broaden your skills as much as possible.

Develop client-facing skills

Employers really value business development or client-facing experience – you will be representing the legal division to the rest of the business so you need to be a good communicator. Try to develop these skills where you can.

Robert Walters Associate Director, Claire Dunwoody says: "At interview, it's key that you highlight when you have been the sole point of contact for a client and that you have advised on a range of issues. This is obviously more difficult if working in a larger firm, but an in-house employer will want to get a sense that you have experience of addressing a range of ad hoc queries."

The legal teams we recruit for can be small so hiring decisions often come down to personality fit rather than technical skills. While you shouldn't change who you are, try to mirror the mood of the interviewer as much as possible.

Wait till you have 2-5 years’ PQE

Most in-house legal jobs are for lawyers with 2 – 5 years’ PQE. This is because employers are looking for people who can confidently advise the rest of the business. While there are definitely some exceptions to this rule, you will stand the best chance of securing a move in-house if you wait till you are at this level.

Develop and sell your language skills

As companies seek to grow overseas, this is creating a lot of cross-border work across Europe. This means we are seeing demand for language skills – specifically French, German and Spanish. So if you are familiar with any of these, getting yourself back up to speed will give you a definite edge. But don’t oversell your language skills because most employers will test you at interview.

Contact us

To explore your legal recruitment needs in Dublin, contact Claire Dunwoody on +353 (0)1 633 4111 or email Alternatively, you can view current opportunities here.

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