Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Worries About my Career's Future (Rant / Advise Needed)

Background: Graduated almost 10 years ago from prestigious l 1nhouselaw02/10/18
"My current executive team keeps telling me how valuable I a dogdaypm02/10/18
I like this idea, but wouldn’t I need an offer from anothe sillydood02/10/18
Maybe, but not always necessarily. You want some assurance dogdaypm02/10/18
"like I breached protocol by sending something to the other dogdaypm02/10/18
Lesson learned. That’s certainly how I’ve operated which sillydood02/10/18
P.S. Look at the bright side. Once the other company start dogdaypm02/10/18
1nhouselaw (Feb 10, 2018 - 1:16 pm)

Background: Graduated almost 10 years ago from prestigious law school. Had biglaw in a super niche area out of law school, but after couple of years my career took unconventional path and I was non-practicing in a law-related field for a few years. Then I lucked into an in-house role a couple of years ago where I am now. My position is middle management, not executive level.

Present: So now I'm in this in-house position at a place I love. I've gotten tons of transactional experience, some employment experience, negotiating leases, corporate governance, etc. I've gotten experience in so many areas and I feel very fortunate to have landed my current role. However, my company is small and I'm the only full-time attorney. I miss having a mentor that I can learn and grow from and for the past several months I've started thinking about needing to find a larger company where I can go in-house and have a mentor (under a GC for instance).

The scary future: A few weeks ago I learn that my company is very likely being acquired by another entity. This other entity has a GC who is way more experienced and qualified by me, and the GC already has a full-time lawyer plus a full-time paralegal under them. It's hard to imagine I'll be part of the new entity beyond an initial transition phase. My current executive team keeps telling me how valuable I am etc. of course but they need me on to help with the transition so I'd expect them to try to keep morale up. To make matters worse, I've already had a few awkward experiences / bad first impressions with the other side's GC. Example of awkward experience: yesterday we were talking about signing a contract between the parties. I offered to send it to both parties via DocuSign and have it sent to the other company's GC when fully executed. The GC said that sounded perfect, so I sent it to CEOs of both companies for DocuSign. Other company's CEO never signed, and GC emails me last night asking why they never got the contract. I explained that because their CEO hasn't signed yet it hasn't been routed to them yet. GC says oh, I thought you were sending it to me, can you send me the contract to handle signatures in my end? Super frustrating and I feel like an idiot now who did something wrong - like I breached protocol by sending something to the other CEO, even though I thought I had GC's permission.

Anyway, I've been furiously sending out my resume the past couple of weeks with zero bites, even though several position seems seemed like a good match on paper. I've sent out 40 so far. I'd say 10 really seemed like good matches, the rest were reaches at best. But am I doomed because of my several years of not practicing? Will this make it really hard to transition into another in-house role? Or is it hard to go from middle-management type in-house role at a smaller company to in-house at a major corporation? I'm just scared right now and any advice would be appreciated.

The bright side is I have no significant debt, no student loans, no mortgage, and no family obligations. So I'm willing to move anywhere in my state pretty much, and work schedule is no issue.

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dogdaypm (Feb 10, 2018 - 1:57 pm)

"My current executive team keeps telling me how valuable I am etc. of course but they need me on to help with the transition so I'd expect them to try to keep morale up. "


Tell them put their money where their mouth is if you're important to help through the transition. 12 months (24 months?) severance if your job doesn't last at least 24 months.

If you're really super needed for the transition (although it doesn't really seem the case) you can work both ends of the stick, e.g., you get the 12 (or 24) mo severance if they eliminate your position in fewer than 24 months AND you get a 12 month's pay kicker if you do remain on the job through that amount of time. (Or variations on the above)

I don't think your working period not-quite-in-law will matter so much if you have several years under your belt now as in-house legal counsel.

I do have the feeling that "major corps" (e.g., F100 size) are unlikely to pick up a guy from a small company. Much more often they're pulling from current biglaw, bigfed, or other inhouse large corps. You would likely be marketable to another small or smallish company with a 2-4 lawyer team, though.

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sillydood (Feb 10, 2018 - 2:10 pm)

I like this idea, but wouldn’t I need an offer from another company to be in a position to negotiate this?

Also, thanks for insight re: larger in-house gigs.

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dogdaypm (Feb 10, 2018 - 3:07 pm)

Maybe, but not always necessarily. You want some assurance of continuity, they want you to stay on.

The question is, how easily replaceable are you? And how easily can you get a new job? What's the culture like there, are they giving you any assurances about whether you'll have a slot in the new, larger org? Or are they (your execs) just telling you that you'll have to wait and see?

The time I've seen this work without an offer in had was a situation where people in the merged company were told their jobs were going to the HQ in another state, and they would be moved there at company expense if they wanted to keep their jobs. The two whose stories I know were both forthright and said they did not want to move, and that they would start looking for jobs.

A couple of months later they were told that circumstances had changed and that "tentatively" their jobs would stay where they were. They again were forthright and said they were in the process of interviewing and intended to take any decent offer because they couldn't support their families on "tentative" promises that their jobs would stay put.

They both got one of those "both ends of the stick" deals I mentioned above. Special circumstances and pretty clearly they were coordinating their efforts, but both were in hard to replace positions so it worked out for them.

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dogdaypm (Feb 10, 2018 - 2:00 pm)

"like I breached protocol by sending something to the other CEO, even though I thought I had GC's permission"

Generally speaking, most corporate legal depts want to do a final review on anything their exec signs if it's been under anyone else's control (i.e., YOU).

Even if you have no nefarious intent, you still could make a simple mistake like losing a word when cleaning up change tracking or inadvertently sending the penultimate version.

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sillydood (Feb 10, 2018 - 2:09 pm)

Lesson learned. That’s certainly how I’ve operated which is why I (thought I) got permission first. Guess I should have been more clear.

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dogdaypm (Feb 10, 2018 - 3:08 pm)

P.S. Look at the bright side. Once the other company starts doing DD and gets a real look at your books and liabilities, the deal may fall through.

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