Not every in-house lawyer dreams of becoming the general counsel. Not everyone wants to take on more responsibility and tackle tougher legal challenges. Some lawyers are B players, who have bumped into their ceiling and are content.
A career at rest by no means sentences the lawyer to a pink slip. The flow of work they are handling will continue, finding and training someone else exacts its toll, the cost of the plateaued lawyer will rise in step with the company average, and no one else is likely to be gunning for that backwater position or feel blocked by its incumbent.
It is a mistake to assume everyone in the department is or should be an ambitious hot shot.