Moving between private practice and corporate counsel involves a number of adjustments and tradeoffs. It can mean a shift in time devoted to business development or even a total change in the type of legal work an attorney’s role involves.
Neal McConomy found that out when he moved from his role as a commercial litigator at Snell & Wilmer to a senior corporate counsel position at CenturyLink in December 2018. He now advises the company’s salespeople in central Florida and the Washington, D.C., area on non-standard contracts. McConomy’s friends in corporate counsel roles told him how different in-house work would be from private practice, but he had to see for himself exactly what that would mean. He heard in-house attorneys tend to be viewed as necessary costs for companies to make sure things go right, as opposed to a profit generator as in private practice, but McConomy said he isn’t sure that quite pinpoints his own experience accurately.
“I compare it to before my son was born two years ago. People were saying … you have no idea, it’s going to change your life,” he said. “I know it’s going to, but then nobody could really tell me exactly how it was going to change my life.”
As an in-house attorney McConomy can put all his focus on his legal work. He said the business development required in private practice just wasn’t for him, and a corporate counsel position was one feasible route for him to move away from it.