The answer USED TO BE that it might give you some advantage, a litmus test that you are a quality attorney. The answer today is not a firm no, but a soft no. There are two patterns that have changed this hiring environment for attorneys.
Today’s attorney will likely only make partner if they are good at bringing in business, which has less to do with being a quality lawyer and more to do with one’s ability to market and utilize relationships made from personal and collegiate connections. Layer in some of the challenges women or minority attorneys have in making partner and you have to conclude that making Partner does not mean you will make the best in-house attorney. In fact, I argue that the personality type that makes a good in-house attorney does not give you any advantage to make Partner. In-house attorneys have to consider the business needs, collaborate with non-attorneys, and forge relationships with a diverse set of people to be successful. In other words, they must “be a team player.” On the other hand, a Partner has to be pretty competitive even among other attorneys within their own firm.
The other market change is that companies are hiring younger attorneys. The advantage for a company is economical. In many cases, I have seen companies hire younger attorneys to report to an executive and then bring in a General Counsel to lead them once the legal needs of the company gain a certain complexity. If you are a CEO and hire a young attorney with three years of experience in Texas for about 120K, you might choke when you learn that a Partner could be accustomed to earning $600-800K per year, well above your own salary. The economics of it may dissuade you from interviewing that candidate and motivate you to select the Of Counsel or Sr. Associate with about the same level of experience instead. A Partner may be okay with taking a salary cut in exchange for equity, but with so many other senior attorneys and in-house attorneys vying for the job, an executive team may not be motivated to put equity on the table unless they know the attorney really well and worked with him or her already.