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A blog with tips and insights into the practice of law

When should you choose the road less traveled?

Have you asked yourself what life would be like on the ‘other’ side?

Whether you’re currently at a firm or working in-house, the question of switching over is one that will probably present itself at some stage of your career. And why shouldn’t it? Australians now pursue education more extensively, we have longer careers and we change jobs more often. Consequently, we have more options than we’ve had before.

The firm experience

Lawyers often start their careers in larger firms and down the track it’s not unusual for the long hours, arduous expectations and office bureaucracy to become fertile ground for considering an alternate path. But there are some aspects of private practice that continue to remain attractive.

One of these is the integral role of providing your client with advice. Growing a relationship and becoming your client’s trusted advisor can be a valuable draw card to private practice.

The in-house path

Working in-house many lawyers feel like they’re afforded the ability to see the ‘whole picture’ of a transaction. You can contribute to the overall success of your organisation rather than being an unseen extension of their dealings, and it can pose the opportunity for promotion to a more senior role when moving from private practice. A background in commercial law is ideal when making a change to in-house but a background in litigation may go a long way too.


Government departments and statutory corporations generally operate as business enterprises, so your position may bare some similarity to an in-house role. Government jobs will usually come with a few perks like flexible hours, study leave and the option of working part-time.

In short, the answer to which path will ultimately be more fulfilling depends on what you enjoy about being a lawyer and the kind of environment you’re seeking. Think about what you’ve found most satisfying about your past roles and consider how each option best accommodates you.