Community Perspectives: After moving in-house, I've realized I'm built for 'the grind'. Does anyone else miss the BigLaw experience?

In-house legal professionals discuss how fulfilled they feel in-house vs. at a law firm.

Community Perspectives: After moving in-house, I've realized I'm built for 'the grind'. Does anyone else miss the BigLaw experience?

(Author) Associate

After having achieved work/life balance and an amazing lifestyle (something I craved at BigLaw), I am learning that I may just be built for the grind. I miss it and I’m bored. Anyone else? I’m single in my early 30s so no kids or a significant other to keep me occupied.

Counsel Responses:

  • Find a hobby, join online meetup groups, take a class - there are other ways to beat boredom than jumping back into the grind of BigLaw/law firms. Just my two cents.

  • I only liked the end product of the grind — winning a motion, settling a big case, winning a trial or arbitration, making an amazing oral argument. The satisfaction of completion. The components of that end product — the 1000000s pages of discovery, 7 day work weeks, endless motions/briefs, stacked deadlines - no. So I liked about 2% of my job. I was busy though, and the grind keeps your mind off stuff. I’ve been in-house since the beginning of the year. Most days are fairly slow. Today I had a 15-minute meeting, then read a demand letter and made a recommendation. Then I read a couple legal blogs I like. Then checked in with the departments I work with to see if anyone needed me for anything. Then sat and moved my mouse around for 5 hours so I wouldn’t go idle on teams. Most days are boring AF. But all I have to do is remember that sense of doom I felt at this same time last year looking at all the deadlines I had stacked against me. People are right— try hobbies, get on some dating apps, date/mess around, try something new — Im working on my yoga teacher training this fall, and planning to make homemade apple butter. I also took up rafting.

  • I am home today and went downstairs to get some more coffee, and checked my mail. Less than 5 minutes and I got back and my laptop had already logged me as idle. If I take a real phone call I have to jiggle my mouse during the call. It is now all about getting your 40 hours in.

  • Interesting. Maybe it's because I started my in house job (less than 1 year in) by making myself permanently away on Teams, and I have teams on my phone to be responsive to chats that come in, but I haven't felt a pressure to appear on all the time and that's not come up on talks with my superiors.

  • I just get paranoid about being “away”… because somehow my boss is “green” all day everyday, like she never takes a break. When things are slow I do let everyone know I’m available and can jump in on projects.

  • How long have you been out of BigLaw? I'd give it some time before you jump back in. I've felt what you're feeling, but I picked up some new hobbies and got re-interested in life stuff that I'd had to put aside, and now I could not imagine going back to the grind. Also, let yourself be bored for a bit. Research shows it's good for the brain! Neuroscientists insist that boredom is good medicine for your brain. Being bored actually amps up your creativity, task engagement and job productivity.

  • I think it’s easy to think you’re “built for the grind” when you don’t have other demands on your time. But since you seem up to it, go back to BigLaw and make big money until it’s no longer consistent with the life you want.

Attorney and Associate Responses:

  • Hate and love relationship. The busier you are, the more disciplined you have to be.

  • Literally same! I wasn’t in BigLaw and I’m not in-house right now, but the firm I’m at isn’t as demanding as I’d like it to be. I bill on average 40hours a week and wish there was more to keep me busier at work. I started getting more involved in local bar orgs and getting new hobbies to fill my time during the week (learning guitar, a new language, taking up running). It’s helped a bit but I still feel like work could be more challenging and exciting.

  • Consider actually getting a significant other. This is an opportunity to build a real life outside of work.

  • When I was a kid, I loved sugary candy. Didn’t matter what they called it, as long as it was basically pure sugar. As I aged, I began to appreciate contrasting and complimentary flavors, appreciate textures, and appreciate the presentation of a meal. I still sometimes need pure sugar from time to time, but a steady diet of it was simply unsustainable. The grind is satisfying in a way that nothing else really can be, but finding the contrasting flavors and textures of being in-house can be satisfying in its own, even if in a more understated way. And it’s certainly more sustainable. To experience that texture, see if you can play bigger roles with your business team. Figure out what people in other departments do. Figure out why your GC staffs certain roles with certain lawyer types. Look over the numbers your finance guys manage yourself to see if they make sense to you.

  • I'm kind of new to in-house. Back in BigLaw people didn’t care as much to appear online because your hours will prove that you were working at the end of the day and everyone will get swamped at one point or another. Do you feel like there’s more of a shift to appearing like you’re online all the time even if not busy in-house? I may need to shift my tactics moving forward lol.

  • I also initially put myself as away all the time because that’s what we would do at the firm and I noticed some people did the same at my new job. I have seen my supervisor on all the time but it’s been slow and I don’t know how she’s on all the time tbh.

  • What’s your current role? I’m looking for boredom lol. 

  • Find some love!!!

  • Lol I’ll swap jobs with you 😆

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