I started my legal career as a summer student in 2008 with what was then known as Ogilvy Renault LLP in Montreal (now known as Norton Rose Fulbright Canada (NRF)). Before discovering the firm, I had not contemplated working at a big firm but I loved the people, the practice area I chose (employment & labour) and the intense intellectual challenge of working with some of the smartest people I had ever met. I wasn’t planning on leaving. I considered myself a “lifer”.
“Life” lasted only a few years. I left the firm in 2012 to lead Employee Relations for Target Canada (see this Slaw.ca post). It was an amazing opportunity. I got to be involved from “before the beginning”, build an amazing team, help figure out how to hire 20,000 people in 6 months, learn a new business and play a large role in building a “best-in-class” set of HR policies and practices. It was an amazing 3-year experience and despite how it ended, I am incredibly proud of what we all accomplished (and wrote about it on the Huffington Post). So what now?
I’ve returned “home”. Three weeks ago, I started back at NRF, this time based in Toronto. Many people have asked me why I would want to return to private practice. Well, I didn’t leave because I didn’t like it – I left because Target presented me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I learned a lot and I think I can be an even better lawyer because of my experience at Target. Having been “in-house”, I’d like to think I can better put myself in the shoes of my clients in my new role.
Many lawyers make the transition from private practice to in-house. Fewer return. For me, it’s been great so far and I feel very fortunate to have been welcomed back so warmly – both by my colleagues and clients.
Does anyone care to share their experiences leaving from or returning to private practice? Any advice?