A much broader scope of work and a different kettle of fish than in-house HR in a law firm. A former private practice lawyer will be enlisted for their expertise in employment law, to serve and represent the interests of the commercial entity. Industry and corporations do not mandatorily have to staff HR departments with qualified employment lawyers. However, in this climate of heightened sensitivity to reputation and risk, many do hire lawyers to support the HR teams, particularly for the senior positions, in order to save on outsourcing costs. It is more of a US model to favour the employment of lawyers into HR specific roles, whereas traditionally, in UK, in house lawyers or general counsel have been asked to deal with employment issues as well as, say, their company commercial or risk management functions.
Typically, a remit might encompass: employee relations matters and employment contracts issues, taking in anything from disciplinaries and grievances, to restructuring and redundancies, including all the scripts and paperwork incumbent to those issues; working with outside lawyers on larger restructuring or internal policy requirements, or, for companies with a mainland European presence, with local European lawyers on works council consultation (particularly in France and Germany); managing any multinational collaborations or partnerships and the requisite information flow and consultations; managing the employment angle on mergers and acquisitions. It can certainly be a far more diverse and complex exposure than private practice employment law.
It is not uncommon that pre-partner level lawyers making the move (around 4-6 years PQE maybe) can experience quite a sizeable pay increase going in-house, but the pay can tend to plateau at a certain point beyond.