A profile of Mark LeHocky, general counsel of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, ran in the Recorder, March 30, 2007. LeHocky, whose company is part of Nestle, represented Dreyer’s in the 1990s and was asked in 1997 to join the company as its top lawyer. He was reluctant because he enjoyed his litigation practice and also because he “had some reservations about in-house practice, in part because many of the in-house teams I had worked with in my private practice frankly did not seem like happy campers. There were folks who did not seem challenged or appreciated and were otherwise frustrated with their situation working in-house.”
Although undeniably true for some in-house counsel, and quite probably a myth cherished by private practitioners, the same discontents pervade law firms. Boring work, ignored workers, frustration with the peccadilloes of partners, competition, and uncertainties about making partner all darken their lives. In-house departments have no monopoly on malaise. If anything, I suspect that the general level of employee satisfaction is higher on the buying side than the selling side.