The Move In-House – Timing Is Everything!
The debate about the relative benefits of working in either Industry or Private Practice is one which occupies the minds of many Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys. Each has its particular features, and whether these are advantages or disadvantages, depends on the point of view of the individual who's making the decision!
The longer term earning potential of a Private Practice position is set against the broader benefits packages and perceived work/life balance of a role In-House. Attorneys also feel they get to work more closely with Inventors and Brands to develop a deeper, more intense caseload specific to one business. This comes at the expense of the continually evolving variety of clients one can expect in a Private Practice role.
If you have an In-House itch you know at some point in your career you are going to want to scratch, when is the best time to make that move? How can you maximise your attractiveness to a potential employer while managing your expectations as to the timescales and likelihood of such a move?
The time in your career is vital! We receive enquiries from Attorneys at Part-Qualified level who are keen to consider In-House roles but without considering the overall picture of their career or indeed the needs of In-House teams.
Firstly it is important to remember; unlike a fee earning role in Private Practice an In-House Attorney is a cost. The extent to which businesses will invest in training and support through exams is invariably far less than a Private Practice role where it is in the interests of the business – after all a Newly Qualified Attorney can be billed out at a higher rate! There are of course exceptions but Attorneys within In-House teams typically take far longer to complete exams and thus Qualify compared to their Private Practice colleagues. It is our experience that when in-house teams recruit, often they prefer to recruit Fully Qualified Attorneys rather than those they need to train further.
Our advice to Part-Qualified Attorneys who want to move In-House would be as follows:
Consider the timing – if you are only 12/18months away from qualification it may be worth staying put until qualification at which point the number of in-house options become broader!
If you are fundamentally unhappy with your current role consider another move into Private Practice to complete qualification.
If qualification (and qualifying sooner) is important to you consider the support and training a Private Practice will provide during training. This will provide a far quicker route to qualification.
In general the following should be considered when making the move In-House regardless of your level of qualification:-
Invariably these moves take longer to achieve – while a Private Practice move can be as quick as a couple of weeks, in-house roles are rarer and processes are different. The recruitment process is far more structured and each candidate is put through the same process. Equally there are more layers of management involved; HR, IP Line Manager, Chief Science Officer - so be prepared for the long haul!
Competition for these roles is far greater.
Be specific - The sector and culture of a business is almost as important as the subject matter of the work. Not every In-House role is the same and looking for ‘any In-House role’ will not make for a successful career move!
For more information on looking at In-House roles – the timing of doing so or the expectations of our In-House clients when recruiting In-House Patent or Trade Mark Attorneys - please get in touch with a member of our specialist IP team for a confidential discussion!