In-House Careers

GLS Legal Opinion: How many hours should the in-house community be working?

3 min • 09 Nov 23


So, how many hours should an in-house counsel be working?

Do you want the pre-amble leading up to our answer or should we just give it to you straight?

You want it straight? Sure. No problem.

50 hours a week. Not more, and not less. If you are full-time.

Let the criticism begin:

  • “That’s inhumane”
  • “There are laws against that”
  • “I do 50 hours in my sleep”
  • “That is not realistic – not with the unique demands that I must meet at my Company.”

Being a lawyer is a tough job. It always has been, and it always will be. If it is not tough then that aspect of your job is a prime candidate for automation or dispatch to a low-cost outsourcing solution.  

You are, after all, being paid for your knowledge, instinct, your EQ & IQ, your project management skills, your availability and your thick skin.  

In-house lawyers should be ready to commit to a solid 10-hour workday Monday to Friday working regular hours. This amounts to 50 hours of contribution which is usually more than enough time to create “value.”

Sure, some flexibility is required as lawyers may need to be available outside of standard business hours to accommodate time zones and project demands. This should be the exception, not the rule. 

However, it’s unacceptable to consistently compensate for resource deficiencies in the legal department by you simply being “constantly available”, particularly outside of business hours.

If you are not working “in range” of our prescription, then something is up and what you are doing is not sustainable. It will not be a good economic bargain for you. 

You need to stop and have a good think about what you are doing, what you want to be doing and where you are doing it.

In our view, appropriate boundaries can be found in a sensible interpretation of our 50-hour week rule by application of the following principles:

  • Availability should never result in your wellbeing and that of your family’s suffering
  • You are never available during holidays or on significant family occasions
  • Calls outside of regular business hours should be taken only when they’re essential, not for convenience
  • Keep in mind – the only people who will remember your excessive hours will be your family!

Here’s some ideas on how to put this into practice:

  • Agree with your business what the “Availability Compact” looks like in your Business
  • Be really good at your job and a team member who consistently delivers
  • Recognise that the future of in-house is “value creation” – not hours delivered
  • Book your holidays and family events well in advance
  • Keep your project teams appraised of approaching holiday events
  • Agree with your team that avoidable non-standard availability should generally not be entertained (note this is not always possible with cross border/time zone deals)
  • Push back consistent disruptions to non-business times by proactively scheduling needed calls during business hours
  • Work for a company where your health and family life are respected
  • Maintain strong file, matter and project management practices to enable smooth handovers to other team members


Please check out the GLS solutions and know-how resources listed on the right side of this page – they might assist your legal team with the issues explored in this Blog. 

Of course, if you would like discuss your transformation needs – please book a 30 minute FREE CONSULT WITH GLS 

In the interim, here are 7 resources and tools that may assist you as you transform the performance capabilities of your legal team:

1. GLS's Ultimate Guide to Legal Operations: download this HERE, and read it thoroughly and regularly. It is a wonderful transformation companion

2. GLS Transformation Boot Camp: for our free and hugely successful, 10 week long, email-based boot camp on how to effectively transform your legal team you can SIGN UP HERE

3. GLS Knowledge Centre: click HERE to access lots of informative and instructive white papers, blogs and training resources etc. - all focused on helping to improve your legal team's performance

4. GLS Legal Operations Community: join the GLS Legal Operations Community and collaborate with other in-house leaders as they seek to tackle many of the same performance issues that you face, click here to JOIN NOW

5. Visit GLS Connect: visit the GLS CONNECT PAGE and select the information you would like to receive from the GLS Legal Operations Community

6. GLS Legal Team Transformation Plans: mitigate the risks of transformation failure by taking a GLS TRANSFORMATION SUPPORT PLAN 

7. Register: GLS Legal Operations Centre: REGISTER HERE to access the GLS Legal Operations Centre for free and to receive more than US$20,000 worth of legal team performance resources

© The GLS Group - Law Rewritten

chevron Back
Legal Resource Stack

Your Resources

Knowledge Centre

chevron Back
GLS Group

News/Press Release

chevron Back
Legal Tech Demo

Discovery Call