Interesting piece from a lawyer who's only worked in-house in one organisation. I've worked in around seven in-house positions and in-house legal departments vary enormously concomitant with the huge variety of businesses that employ in-house lawyers. The variation is far greater than as between different BigLaw firms.
In some in-house departments the HQ team does pretty much every big transaction and maybe has a satellite team in a area where salaries are lower to do the day-to-day stuff. In others the juicy work gets outsourced to external firms. The best are truly trusted advisers and are involved in strategic decision making. The worst keep their lawyers in a box marked "legal". Sorry to say that I'm not surprised by the story (below) of a chief risk officer being shown the door for saying no; didn't that sort of attitude to compliance in the big banks lead to the financial meltdown a few years ago?
So, how do you avoid making the mistake of taking a poor in-house job? The only true way to assess it is to talk to lawyers already working there or those who've previously worked there. Use your networks to find such people if you don't already know them personally. Good luck!
Finally, my dining companion told me about a second in-house job that she’d held: “My next job was a fiasco, too, but for entirely different reasons. There, we had senior business executives who had no respect for either our law department or the law generally. If we told the business that certain conduct was prohibited, the business would tell us to find a way around the law or would go ahead and do the prohibited stuff despite our advice. One day the company’s chief risk officer had the temerity to tell the business, ‘No.’ The business guys called security, and I saw the chief risk officer being escorted to the door. That’s when I started my job search