Cal. Litig. 2016, Volume 29, Number 2

Secondments: A View from the Inside-Out

By Dorit Glockner Warner

Lawyers, by training, adhere to the status quo and resist change. Of course, there are exceptions, but, by and large, we are taught to consider precedent and stay within the lines. As a senior litigation associate at a large law firm, I was accustomed to that. But then, about five years ago, I was given the opportunity to try something different — a year-long secondment with one of the firm’s clients, or at least six months if I was clamoring to get back to my job at the firm as outside counsel. I was quite content with the status quo and not looking to change my practice, even just for a little while. But it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

A mentor made the following pitch: You will be an even better outside counsel if you have the perspective of having worked in-house; you will encounter many more lawyers while working in-house; in the end you will come out of this experience a better lawyer. And so, because I love to learn, I accepted the secondment as an opportunity to learn even more about lawyering. Of course, the experience would also provide me with a different forum in which to zealously advocate for our client from the inside out, and to learn more about our client’s business.

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