Whether in-house counsel these days have less job security than in previous years is an empirical question. Journalists, executive search firms, and consultants play up the fragility of in-house lawyer positions (See my post of March 26, 2006 on reasons not to go in-house.). According to the NY Times, Sept. 10, 2006 at BU 3, facts don’t bear out this level of worry. Recent evidence from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the jobs aren’t any more or less disposable than they were in the past. In fact, the median years of tenure with one’s current employer has risen steadily since 1983, from about 3.5 to 4 years.
Even so, job stability at publicly held companies has decreased markedly. Such companies only account for about one third of all business employment, but probably a much higher percentage of in-house lawyers. Until research proves otherwise, nervous corporate lawyers will attend too much to grim stories of layoffs – and not enough to un-newsworthy stories about long careers with the same department.