Career paths for inside lawyers – few promotions, but some other choices

Why does the perception exist that career paths in law departments don’t match career paths in law firms? There may be more management roles in a large law firm, such as practice head of the environmental group or partner responsible for marketing, but given a large enough law department comparable roles are available. Once made a partner, there are no further law-firm promotions; other than the rare elevation to general counsel, there are no further promotions for senior inside counsel.

Aside from promotions, however, there are choices along the corporate way. Developmental initiatives mentioned by respondents to a recent law department survey, in Legal Week, Sept. 28, 2006 at 10, included “establishing a career development review process for high-achieving lawyers, introducing new areas of legal expertise and rotating lawyers around the department.” The general counsel of the UK’s Diageo, Tim Proctor, cited his taking two talented people in London and the US and having them switch jobs for a while.

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