Few professionals, including even shrewd lawyers, start their careers with the strategy of "switching sides." As Joel Cohen explains in his special to Law.com, "switching sides" means developing a knowledge base and skill set on one side of the table and then leveraging it on the other side. Here are Cohen's reflections.
Although many of us don't start out with our eye on opportunities to switch sides, we gradually become aware of its extreme usefulness. For example, in the public relations industry, former Congressional aides are sought after for advocacy against as well as for issues they helped their superiors promote. Yes, they have deep insider knowledge of what arguments are persuasive with what constituencies.
Often we don't go high profile on telling the world that we are switching sides. Instead we simply do it. We apply our insight about the context to seek out professional opportunities. I might go after an assignment ghostwriting for a plaintiff lawyer by demonstrating my understanding of how corporations tend to position and package themselves on a specific matter both for the court of law and the court of public opinion. That would help the plaintiff lawyer with her own positioning and packaging.
The raw reality is that switching sides delivers an edge for what we can sell and how we can sell it. The ethical and personal branding implications? Focusing on those, of course, have to be factored in when making decisions about switching sides.