As any in-house counsel is likely to tell you, their role in both a legal department and the overall organization presents both rewards and challenges. As highly educated professionals—often with years of experience already under their belts—in-house counsel at all levels of a company have important jobs that require specialized skills. But are they happy in their careers?
At Evers Legal, that’s a question we’ve pondered for a long time—and two years ago, we decided to ask our subscribers in our first-ever Evers Legal Career Satisfaction Survey. This year, we asked again.
Not surprisingly, and just as we learned from our results in 2016, in-house counsel at all levels—from legal counsel to chief legal officer—have an above-average career satisfaction level of 3.43, on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). And they find their jobs highly satisfying in many ways.
Reaping the Rewards
When asked about the most rewarding aspects of their jobs, their top responses from our given list of options were “working with a great team,” “intellectual stimulation” and “responsibility.” But their write-in answers really drove that point home, with comments such as:
- Being charged with “a range of responsibilities outside of traditional legal roles”
- “Autonomy to manage my work”
- “Intellectual stimulation, coupled with much lower stress levels”
- Being “imbedded with the business, given independence and autonomy”
- “Collaboration with my colleagues on various issues that arise”
- The ability to “drive change and fix inefficiencies”
Overall, in-house counsel seem to be happy when they are taking on additional responsibilities, exercising independence, working with their colleagues to move the company forward and are ultimately intellectually stimulated.
We also asked our respondents about the challenges their positions present. Their top three responses from our given list of options were “stress,” “difficult internal client or supervisor” and “long hours.” But their write-in answers provided additional insights about their desire to ascend the legal department ladder.
When asked, “What is the most challenging aspect of your job?,” respondents said:
- “Understanding my place on the totem pole”
- “Lack of clarity regarding the future”
- “Succession planning/cultivating the careers of the up-and-comers”
- And “Lack of opportunity for advancement,” which showed up on the list twice
Despite these challenges, it’s fair to say, in-house counsel are highly satisfied in their careers. And the fact that one of their biggest frustrations is the lack of opportunity to move up the legal department ladder only confirms this point. They love their jobs—the responsibilities, the team work and the intellectual stimulation—and they consistently want to take it to the next level. Essentially, they want more. And that’s the hallmark of a satisfying career.
Read our full 2018 Evers Legal Career Satisfaction Survey report—complete with all the statistics from the survey as well as our analysis of the findings and advice for taking your career to the next level.