Appellant's Brief

There and Back Again

Law firms are typically organized around partners, who are joint owners and business directors of the legal operation, associates who are employees of the firm with the prospect of becoming partners, and a variety of staff employees providing paralegal, clerical and other support services.

An associate may have to wait as long as nine years before the decision is made as to whether the associate "makes partner".

- Wikipedia

In my case, it took them almost eight years to decide, including the fourteen months I was on indefinite leave.

More than a year ago, I received an offer to hed the legal department of a local retailing firm. I decided to accept, for purpose, passion and profit.

Seven months later, I received another offer to serve as in-house counsel for a Hong Kong based securities firm. I told myself, why not? Again, for purpose, passion and profit.

Another eight months later, I am back where I started. I received a phone call last April from my former bosses. They invited me back to the firm. Halfway through the conversation, I realized that they were inviting me back as a partner.

There was only a moment's hesitation. I have been engaged in the practice of law for about eight years. If I had learned one thing, it is that success, whether in life, love or law, requires an individual to control his destiny.

I do not have anything against lawyers (friends included), who have taken in-house positions. I am after all, one of them. Heading the legal or compliance department of a business enterprise, whether local or multinational, is an achievement in itself. I am a witness to the amount of pressure exerted on an in-house counsel, especially where the standards of his or her legal training conflict with the demands of the business.

However, save for a few exceptions, an in-house counsel will never be the captain of his own ship. He will always be an employee of the company he is lawyering for. As a rule, legal departments are expense accounts, whose sole purpose is to support the revenue earning departments. In this sense, an in-house counsel has limited control over the direction the company is going.

I celebrated my thirty-third birthday two months ago. It was the first time that I felt I had real control over my destiny.


Pleaded by Appellant on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 @ 5:56 PM with 3 Objections