The advantages of legal private practice

James Gallagher 27.04.2018

One talking point among my peers has always been the pros and cons of in-house versus private practice. I find it interesting that people tend to see each career path as mutually exclusive, that in-house types wouldn't like practice and vice versa.

I don't look at it this way.

Having worked in private practice (large and small) and also in-house I have good insight into both career paths and would generally tell my candidates that each route offers its own advantages which would appeal to us all.

Here first, the benefits of private practice:

You are surrounded by your peers

This is not to be sniffed at. Most solicitors have come through a similar academic and career path. Everyone has faced the dreaded FE-1s, everyone went a bit mad in Blackhall and everyone now struggles with their massive workload. There is something really nice about working in an environment where everyone has so much in common. As much as we all try to avoid it, we love to chat about legal stuff (and share horror stories!) with each other when we are having lunch or out for a drink. It is only when you step away from practice that you will really miss this outlet.

Your clients (generally) view your work as a service

When you are being billed for something you tend to value it. Law firms pride themselves on their service levels and rightly so. The demand for legal advice is extremely strong at the moment and Ireland is lucky enough to house a superb choice of legal providers. Be it small, medium, large, full service or boutique firms, standards are extremely high and practitioners can be proud to be a part of that.

You have a defined career path

Each law firm has a system for progression. It is good to be able to plan your next promotion, pay rise, bonus and so on. If you cannot see this happening for you in your current firm you can consider speaking to another firm which might have a visible path for you.

Unless you are very specialised, you will likely work with clients from a range of industry sectors. You may be looking after the legal angle but you will need to understand the driving commercial factors behind each transaction/case. Not only does this lead to continued learning but results in a varied and interesting work life.

I will go through the benefits of in-house in my next blog and for some people there can be good reasons to look at a move. However, I should mention that a side effect of point 1 above can mean that people are also quick to highlight the cons of practice to each other. This is natural in any environment where we are surrounded by our peers but it is important to keep our own priorities in mind.  Far away fields really can be greener so don't let others having a bad day make you question your own path. Everyone has different plans and it is important to look at what is right for you. 

If you would like to discuss your plans please get in touch with me..

James Gallagher's picture
Practice Leader


A leading Tech company is seeking a motivated, highly-organised, detail-oriented candidate with impeccable judgement to join...
Dublin City Centre26.05.2020
Insurance Multinational | Permanent | Dublin City Centre
Dublin City Centre26.05.2020
Payments company | New role | Permanent | Full-time or Part-time