Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

A Seasoned In-House Lawyer Says Make Lateral Moves to Non-Counsel jobs Early In Your Career.

Here is the link the the full article (http://www.insidecoun beat12301/05/17
#6 makes a lot more sense if an early attorney manages to la jabberwocky01/05/17
I think one thing that you have to watch out for when doing rising1l01/06/17
a career change is often accompanied by a pay cut. I hone dingbat01/06/17
Not I said the fly. Had a come up instead. And a VP title mtobeinf01/06/17
this is all very good advice (albeit geared toward the in-ho dingbat01/05/17
This an excellent list. I wish I had someone like that givin riskmanager01/06/17
Ever worked in government? Efficiency can be relative. drwayoflife01/06/17
Modern conservatives don't talk in terms of nuance and relat riskmanager01/07/17
Bureaucracy breeds inefficiency, and larger organizations re dingbat01/07/17
Yes. It's also why conservatives used to be ok with using an riskmanager01/07/17
the definition of "conservative" has shifted over time (so dingbat01/07/17
Spot on. mtobeinf01/07/17
That's true until crap hits the fan on a bad deal. riskmanager01/07/17
beat123 (Jan 5, 2017 - 7:44 pm)

Here is the link the the full article (http://www.insidecounsel.com/2011/12/16/inside-experts-10-pieces-of-advice-from-a-seasoned?slreturn=1483661793&page=2) and below are 10 pieces of advice from a seasoned in-house lawyer. Do you agree with number #6?

1. Don’t go to work for a company just because you think it might be the next Facebook. If you do, good luck, but you aren’t necessarily building a career. At the beginning of your career, or even in the middle, what you want is to find a mentor, usually a general counsel or someone who has worked as an in-house lawyer for a while. Being a successful in-house lawyer is about responding to any and all situations with the right demeanor, meaning keeping your cool and figuring out how to respond the best way you can with what’s available to you.

2. Don’t worry too much about specializing in a field of law. Specialization can do more to restrict career advancement than help it. Instead, specialize in knowing your company.

3. Understand that lawyers make lousy personnel managers, but they can make good mentors. When it comes to salaries, bonuses, vacation, conflicts with other employees, managing lawyers would rather run and hide under their desks than talk to their direct reports. If you have the opportunity to report to a CEO or CFO or another business side manager, while maintaining clear and complete decision making power over legal matters, take it, it’s golden.

4. Turn hierarchy into collegiality. If you are working as a staff lawyer in a law department, look for opportunities to make your reporting into the department as “flat” as possible, by volunteering for committees, taking on special projects, and offering to help other lawyers in your department.

5. Establish lasting relationships with your internal clients. Too often, lawyers restrict their friendships to other lawyers. But former clients who have moved on to other jobs will frequently hook you up with new career opportunities. In other words, learn to love the sales people. It will be worth it.

6. Make lateral moves to non-counsel jobs early in your career. The longer you wait, the more you will get typecast as a lawyer. In my mind, the choice comes down to asking yourself, “Can I go through life without people thinking of me as a lawyer?” I have never been able to answer honestly answer “Yes” to that question.

7. Accept that all companies suffer from dysfunction. Business rarely happens in some precise, methodical kind of way (unlike the law). It took me years to figure that out.

8. If your company is being acquired, it’s probably time to get out of Dodge. In-house lawyers are not assets. We are advisors. When the people we are advising go away, we go away.

9. Dress the part. Business people expect in-house lawyers to look and dress like the lawyers they see on TV. Watch reruns of “The Practice” and “Boston Legal.”

10. “Don’t chase the points.” Last, I will quote from Phil Simms, the former New York Giants quarterback and now NFL commentator, who says “don’t chase the points” when he sees a team going for it on 4th down instead of kicking a field goal. It’s the same with your career. Don’t chase the money. Develop good contacts, learn how business works, and enjoy being a lawyer.

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jabberwocky (Jan 5, 2017 - 9:17 pm)

#6 makes a lot more sense if an early attorney manages to land a mentor as per #1: "[...] what you want is to find a mentor, usually a general counsel or someone who has worked as an in-house lawyer for a while." Also, this seems specifically geared for in-house counsel and not those gunning for the biglaw partnership track.

A few of my friends are lawyers, and my limited anecdata suggests that most associates desperately covet in-house counsel jobs, except for one counter-example who left a boring in-house team to rejoin her old firm and regretted her choice a year after due to the lack of work-life balance.

Attorneys in my technology small company farm out the specialized areas (immigration, IP) to boutique firms. This seems to be par for the course from informal discussions with other companies and attorneys. As a [tech] company gets larger then their in-house legal teams becomes more of a "corporate full-service" team and will especially ramp up a specialized IP team.

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rising1l (Jan 6, 2017 - 9:52 am)

I think one thing that you have to watch out for when doing number 6 is that often times people in the legal department are paid a lot more than other positions inside a corporation. For example, when I was inhouse, I was paid about the same as many VPs, yet i didn't have a VP title.

Unless you are going for a mid management non-law position, you may have to take a pay cut.

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dingbat (Jan 6, 2017 - 10:07 am)

a career change is often accompanied by a pay cut.

I honestly don't know why so many people want to lateral out of law, unless it's because they want to work less hours (and therefore should expect a pay cut)

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mtobeinf (Jan 6, 2017 - 11:13 am)

Not I said the fly. Had a come up instead. And a VP title for shytes and gigs.

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dingbat (Jan 5, 2017 - 10:09 pm)

this is all very good advice (albeit geared toward the in-house lawyer).
Not sure to what extent I agree or disagree with #6. I've known people at all stages of their careers lateral out (or even back in)

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riskmanager (Jan 6, 2017 - 10:50 am)

This an excellent list. I wish I had someone like that giving me advice earlier. Eg, in my 40s, I am only now getting a mentor.

I especially like the part about companies being dysfunctional. I would add large companies are also often inefficient and irrational with a lot of deadweight. I chuckle whenever I read some conservative arguing the efficiency of Fortune 1000 companies.

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drwayoflife (Jan 6, 2017 - 11:37 am)

Ever worked in government? Efficiency can be relative.

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riskmanager (Jan 7, 2017 - 3:22 am)

Modern conservatives don't talk in terms of nuance and relatively in which one compares and contrasts. In such a world one would have to admit government vs private is a sucker's game of checkers in a world of chess. They talk in terms of entrenched dogma and the magic sky god, with its circular definition, called the "market. " other lawyers where I work are good at the law when it comes to negotiation. That's not my talent. Mines is cutting through bs to get things done. I've done that in the private and public sector. There's no difference when you are digging your way through the bs put up by any bureaucracy.

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dingbat (Jan 7, 2017 - 9:08 am)

Bureaucracy breeds inefficiency, and larger organizations require more bureaucracy to operate. In economics there's the term "diseconomies of scale", which is a fancy way to describe when a company/organization/government agency becomes so big that it becomes less efficient.

It's why breakups were such a big thing in the 1980's - corporate raiders would buy up oversized companies and split them up into more profitable and less profitable companies, and jettisoning the deadwood (okay, let's not mention the occasional pilfering of the pension funds)

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riskmanager (Jan 7, 2017 - 4:25 pm)

Yes. It's also why conservatives used to be ok with using antitrust laws.

The real value to a corporate attorney who wants to , as I now do, transition to the business side, is that I've been deeply involved in the deals and organizing of business as an adviser.

The leap for me is accepting being the final decision maker because I know how businesses really operate and how to manage
People.

Most of these things I realized by accident. It would have been great to have a mentor to point them out to me so that I would have saved time. So I definitely think a mentor is a good idea.

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dingbat (Jan 7, 2017 - 5:36 pm)

the definition of "conservative" has shifted over time
(so has the definition of "liberal")

On to the matter at hand, cutting through BS to get things done is far more important than being technically good at the law. As a friend of mine once quipped: an attorney technically good at the law would tell Uber to not do just about everything they've done, whereas a true advisor would tell them to go full steam ahead and deal with the fallout later.

Remember, no one is hiring an attorney to be technically good at the law; an attorney is hired for a specific purpose: fix this mess, make sure this deal goes smoothly, limit my liability, etc.
In crim, all they want to hear is "I'll get you off" or "I'll get you the best deal possible"
In transactions, all they want to hear is "there won't be any problems with this deal"
Insurance defense: "we'll pay the minimum we can get away with"

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mtobeinf (Jan 7, 2017 - 7:56 pm)

Spot on.

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riskmanager (Jan 7, 2017 - 9:01 pm)

That's true until crap hits the fan on a bad deal.

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