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Inside Counsel's 2010 Career Satisfaction Survey says a lot about how in-house counsel are adjusting expectations, managing stress and counting their blessings in this troubled economy. But buried in the data are plenty of folks who defy typecasting.
Take Frank Lynch, who works in the law department at Mondial Assistance. In-house counsel typically rate exposure to the business side among the greatest advantages of an in-house job. Lynch listed it as the biggest disadvantage. Not that he doesn't love his job--his survey is one of the most resoundingly positive in the stack--he's just not a big fan of locking horns with uncooperative sales types.
"My dissatisfaction with businesspeople was greater at my previous company," he says. "Most of the time here, they value the opinions that we bring, but sometimes it's a little tough to work through it. I think there can be significant tension between the sales and marketing department and the legal department in many companies."
In other words, working with the business team comes with the territory, and Lynch is fine with it, but it's not the best part of his job.
Or take Gregory Theiss, of Robert Bosch LLC. Work-life balance is the highest-rated attribute of in-house work, but he listed it as the biggest drawback. In an understaffed, overworked department, the lifestyle is little different from a law firm, he says.
So after the numbers are all crunched and the trends parsed, it seems fitting to acknowledge what the data on the advantages and disadvantages of in-house work insist: that the concept of career satisfaction is at its core wholly subjective.