(Author) a Counsel

The executive team is constantly recognizing my boss in meetings for work I did (I worked on one project in particular for six months and brought it to a successful end and gave the managing committee a presentation on what I did and how it will make their lives easier). The managing committee knew it was me, because my boss was handling an equally important issue. Then, during the ‘all hands call’ the committee tells the company it was my boss that did both projects. I recently have started receiving positive feedback even from attorneys I negotiate with for my redlines and improvements but not my own company.

That being said, my boss is very appreciative towards me - and I know the role of an associate is to make the partner look good (I only have 2YOE and an MBA) but it’s starting to get to me.

The business people invited me to drinks last week and told me they know I’m doing all of the work. So I have that camaraderie I guess.

I just want to know; do you feel that being an in-house attorney is often a thankless position?

General Counsel Responses:

  • Seems like an issue of poor leadership.

Counsel Responses:

  • Yes it can be, because unlike when you are at a law firm, you’re no longer revenue generating and part of the “front office”. But I didn’t go in-house to be a star of the show. I went in-house to have a life.
  • I think it depends on what you are practicing in-house. I'm labor/employment, EEO and HR and the HR/personnel colleagues of mine seem really appreciative of my advice. I am in a silo with them and don’t do much with the other in-house legal people, though. I know they feel burnt out and unappreciated from time to time.
  • Not particularly.
  • If your boss is not crediting you for your work in front of leadership, your boss is the problem.
  • The boss is the problem, not in-house in particular. You’ll find bad bosses everywhere.
  • It's the boss, not you. People will thank my boss all the time for legal work and he makes sure to reply and say that I did all the work and that all he did was send the email.
  • This sounds like my last job. Consider moving on and in your search, prioritize questions about company culture, mentorship, and team leadership to assess the legal team’s culture before you join.
  • I would try to stick it out a year and see if things get better over time as you develop deeper relationships with your internal business clients.
  • It also depends a lot on how you view your role at the company.
  • It depends and some of that comes from the executives down. Our executive team really wants legal involved and sets the example that we’re all a team working toward a common goal. They don’t pit the business against legal. I have friends where that isn’t the culture and legal is seen as a “problem.”
  • Mostly people are professional/respectful. I’m a litigator so I understand why the business folks aren’t thrilled to be talking to me. But overall it’s been fine.
  • I think it depends on the department you ask. HR, Accounting, Security all love legal departments. Sales? Not so much.

Attorney and Associate Responses:

  • I’ve been in-house at a medium-size bank’s trust department for about a year now. I get much more praise from outside counsel than I do from the executive team. Though, I mostly work with the executive team during messy situations, so it’s probably a “no news is good news” type of mentality/culture at the executive level.
  • It depends A LOT on the company culture. I’ve been treated well and I’ve been treated like trash.
  • I’ve got limited experience - two and a half years after twenty in private practice - but that’s not been my experience. It certainly feels 1000% less thankless than when I was in private practice.

In-house? Be a part of the conversation on Fishbowl (anonymous).