Let me say at the outset that in-house jobs vary. If you’re a technology licensing lawyer and you move in-house to handle only technology licensing for a corporation, you may in fact improve your substantive skills. As you move up through the corporate legal ranks, however — or if you join the corporation at a fairly senior level — you’ll ultimately become a generalist.
That’s true for more in-house people than you’d think. The general counsel will scramble minute-by-minute from proxy statements to executive compensation to corporate secretarial duties to mergers and acquisitions. The GC may have been a fine M&A lawyer when she was in private practice; after five years in-house, those skills are likely to be less finely honed. (I’m not making judgments here; I’m stating facts. There’s much to be said for being a specialist; there’s much to be said for being a generalist; but those skill sets are different.)
Inside Straight: Loving The Ignorance, Part II