The War of “Legal” Department vs. “Law” Department! The brawl over “Associate” vs “Assistant” General Counsel!! The vicious struggle between backers of general counsel (plural) and general counsels. The endless and cruel conflicts over word choices that go to the heart of one’s self and the meaning of life.
So, to hyphenate or not to hyphenate. The ultimate arbiter, the uber-crowdsource, Google, reports that a search for “in-house counsel” returns 638,000 hits. A search for the unhyphenated twin, “inhouse counsel” returns a meager 12,500. A 50-to-1 lead trumps even election returns in Iraq!
But solid empirical research demands more. “Inhouse lawyer” has 10,200 hits; “In-house lawyer” has 74,500 (7-to-1 ratio). “Inhouse attorney” barely registers at 809; “In-house attorney scales 62,100 hits.
I make the tough calls and I call them right: hyphens by a huge point spread, you in-housers!