Are the vast majority of in-house lawyers lonely and isolated?

I want to write about an aspect of working in-house that I think should be talked about more. And that is that most in-house lawyers feel lonely and isolated, even within large legal departments.

This might surprise many but I know its true from my own personal experience and from conversations I’ve had with other in-house lawyers.

Here’s why:

To start, most in-house legal professionals work in small legal teams – less than 5 people. Many are legal teams of one.

Those who are fortunate to be part of large legal team don’t tend to fare better as they are usually legal teams of one themselves.

That is because most in-house lawyers are subject-matter experts and operate in subject-matter silos.

The employment lawyers work on employment,
The data privacy attorneys on data privacy,
The commercial lawyers on commercial deals,
The litigation lawyers only handle litigation, etc.

You might have one or two colleagues on the same subject matter that work together but that’s it.

Besides the legal team, the teams that in-house lawyers work with are the BUSINESS – sales, procurement, finance, product. It’s a different relationship legal to the rest of the business.

And while legal and the business are certainly on the same TEAM, very often it feels like we are OPPONENTS!

So, all in all, it’s very easy to feel isolated and alone as an in-house lawyer, even if you are on a large legal team.

If that’s you, know that you are not alone.

If i’m wrong – and i’d love to be wrong about this – I’d love to hear it. What do you think? Does this resonate with you?

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