The talents needed for a career at an ‘elite’ law firm can seem limited by comparison.

Competition for in-house positions is more intense than ever, recruiters confirm. By 2020, the number of solicitors working in this sector is likely have risen still further from the present one in four.

For many seeking to cross the divide, their motivation includes working in an environment that values the broad skills outlined by Carillion GC Richard Tapp.

Kicking off a series of thought leadership articles on the in-house sector, Tapp describes the ideal modern GC. They are consigliere, trusted adviser and counsellor all in one; technically adept, and with onerous responsibilities that include owning an organisation’s ‘unknown unknowns’.

By comparison, the talents needed for a career at elite commercial law firms from which many in-house lawyers have made the switch seem limited. The huge financial rewards of partnership are attained, some complain, by combining an appetite for long hours with a penchant for narrow cognitive tasks and a knack for marketing.  

Are the old incentives enough any more? To compete and succeed in the future – with relationships in manifold jurisdictions, near-shore paralegal hubs, artificial intelligence, and complex and varied service and fee arrangements – firms will need to value and reward a dauntingly wide range of skills.

Reading Tapp’s article, can one conclude that such skills are presently better celebrated in-house?