Aspects of in-house work that sometimes boost and sometimes burst morale

I have quarried much from InsideCounsel, May 2008 at 61, which reports on a survey of in-house counsel on career satisfaction. In one part of the survey, respondents chose from a list of 11 MOST rewarding parts of working in-house and another list of 11 LEAST rewarding parts.

“Exposure to the business side” came out on top as a plus (26.7% chose it), but at the same time “dealing with business people” was a negative (3.1%, next to the least negative). Does this suggest that abstractly it is engaging to know how one’s company makes money, but when you get down to it, business clients can be a pain in the neck? How do we reconcile these two findings?

It is frustrating that “type of legal work I do” (a negative rating of 3.6%, number 9 down the list) does not map perfectly with “variety of legal work” (a positive rating of 20.3, 3rd on the list).

“Salary” came in next to last as a rewarding aspect of the job (0.5%) and was the second leading demotivator (25.4%). I doubt that these rankings are based on perceived pay inequalities within the law department. It must be that the inside lawyers compare their paycheck to what their classmates from law school are thought to be making at large law firms. It’s unclear where bonuses and equity awards, such as options and restricted stock and phantom stock, come in. Are they “perks” or “benefits package” or should there be a choice for that next time?

“My colleagues” give a warm and fuzzy feeling (ranked 7th at 3.7% as a morale booster) but also heart burn as a morale buster for a few (ranked 11th at 1.4%). In general, collegiality rules but it can cut both ways.

Some items on a list deserve a counterpart on the other list. “Working for one client” gets a positive valence but there is no entry for “locked into only one client.” As my last point, some plausible drivers of engagement are not on either list but I think they could be good candidates. For example, “believing that my company serves a good purpose, acts ethically, etc.” (See my posts of March 16, 2008: morality of in-house practitioners.). Nor is there a choice for “I feel valued by my clients.”

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