Linda Mackinlay, workplace law specialist and newly-appointment special counsel at Bartier Perry, says it may be time for a “rethink of the conventional one-sided firm or in-house career track in law”, noting that switching career tracks early on can help lead to more well-rounded lawyers.
“The traditional law firm secondment model may give you a snapshot of what it’s like to work in-house but at the end of the day you walk out the door,” said Ms Mackinlay.
“Taking on a full-time role in-house gives you a very different perspective.”
Ms Mackinlay joined Bartier Perry’s workplace law and culture team last month. She first began her career at a mid-tier firm where she went on to become a senior associate before joining St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney as ER/IR legal counsel.
She noted that her own experience has taught her the value of practising in both the private practice and in-house space.
“I definitely feel more capable and better prepared for private practice again after being in-house,” she said.
“Before I went in-house the advice to clients would be technically correct but perhaps not as pragmatically driven as it could have been. When you’re in-house you need to take into account the organisations wider objectives and plans. You need to be nimble in the advice you give.
“In private practice your main point of contact is also typically in the legal team but in-house you’re working with and managing a far more diverse group of executives and stakeholders.”
Further Ms Mackinlay noted lawyers facing billable hours targets in private practice "shouldn’t underestimate the significant demands of managing a corporate counsel role”.
“Corporate counsel plays an increasingly central role in the day-to-day running of organisations and that frequently means you are juggling a range of issues,” she said.