Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 21


"One common myth is that in-house work is so
cushy compared to a law firm. As a chief legal
officer, I'm basically available and working
around the clock. With a global operation, you
have to be prepared for whatever happens. With
a law firm, your hours can be more predictable."
- Jim Winner, Aegis World
compensated GC, with a base salary of $1.5 million.
The average salary for the top 100 GCs was more than
$700,000 in 2015, according to the survey.
Lower-level in-house lawyers, on average, are
compensated far less, according to Robert Half Legal's
2017 salary report. For small to large-size companies,
the salary range was $137,500 to $269,500 for lawyers
with more than 10 years of experience, $111,500 to
$224,750 for lawyers with four to nine years of
practice, and $87,000 to $166,750 for lawyers with less
than three years of experience. These ranges
represent a 3.3 percent increase over 2016 rates.
"Working in house, you're not going to be making a
million and getting equity all the time, but you're
going to be fine," says Merklinger. "Nobody is
complaining that they can't make their car payment."

James
Merklinger

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS
Recruiters say their biggest challenge in marketing
in-house positions is the misperceptions that exist
about the in-house role and workload. Too often,
corporate positions are viewed as a place to coast.
The truth is a far cry from the perception, say in-house
attorneys.
"One common myth is that in-house work is so cushy
compared to a law firm," says Winner. "As a chief legal
officer, I'm basically available and working around the
clock. With a global operation, you have to be

Photo courtesy of Association of Corporate Counsel

prepared for whatever happens. With a law firm, your
hours can be more predictable."
And what happens when attorneys want to return to
the law firm fold? There is some debate about the
difficulty of jumping back to law firms after an
extended period in house. In-house lawyers concede
that their traditional skills may be rusty and need
some buffing. Some suggest that much depends on
the law firm and the position an attorney might be
seeking. There are too many factors to know for sure.
"It can be very difficult to go back into a law firm from
an in-house position," says Savage. "You're focusing
more on the business side. It's a different skill set than
in a law firm. Plus, law firms might question your
commitment to the firm if you've already stepped out
of law firm life."
For in-house lawyers at the GC level, the switch back
to law firms is easier, says Savage. Armed with great
titles and a wealth of business experience, they are
frequently welcomed back into firms to serve as
managing partners and other key leaders.
A shift in legal strategy and spending at corporations
does not presage the demise of outside counsel.
There is a serious need for outside services in complex
litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and fractious
government investigations. For legal matters like
these, the return on investment for hiring and
maintaining a corps of specialists on staff is poor, and
it makes better business sense to retain outside
counsel.
"One of the benefits of utilizing outside counsel is
their currency and depth in specialized fields of law,"
says Winner. "When you're in house, you don't have a
great opportunity to remain up to date and sharp on
particular legal subject matters. You know that law
firms are focused on maintaining each of their areas of
practice, and they'll do training and other professional
development activities to ensure that they are
constantly updating and deepening their knowledge
in each area or specialty."

German
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Sarah Kellogg is a regular contributor to
Washington Lawyer.
* WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY 2017

21


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January 2017

Washington Lawyer - January 2017
Contents
Your Voice
From Our President
Our Membership
Career & Professional Development
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: An Inside Job
Feature: Investment Planning for Lawyers
Feature: Making the Virtual Leap
Feature: Lawyers Have Heart
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Partners' Perspective
Ask the Ethics Experts
Attorney Briefs
Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Washington Lawyer - January 2017
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Contents
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Our Membership
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: An Inside Job
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 20
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Investment Planning for Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Making the Virtual Leap
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Lawyers Have Heart
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 32
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Partners' Perspective
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover4
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