Remembering TCPaul, 2016-2019

Difficulty of Transitioning to In-House

Hello all. It seems like in-house positions are very dif bostonlawyer.204/22/19
Any in-house position worth a damn is going to go to someone superttthero04/22/19
I have Biglaw and prestigious background. I once turned dow imoothereforeim04/22/19
Being white helps more than it hurts. 2breedbares04/22/19
all hail the return of the small law/midlaw guy who brags ab williamdrayton04/22/19
Haha. I get paid about 120k less than biglaw attorneys but a mtbislife04/22/19
If you define in-house as being the legal department of a pu onehell04/22/19
Boston, did you decide to open that plaintiffs' firm, or are wutwutwut04/22/19
If he's in ID, then there's a whole other set of in-house jo onehell04/22/19
bostonlawyer.2 (Apr 22, 2019 - 11:10 am)

Hello all.

It seems like in-house positions are very difficult to snag, especially if your background is litigation rather than corporate.

The various problems I see are -

1. Must have Biglaw experience at prestigious firm.
2. 60% of jobs involve corporate law - reviewing and drafting contracts.
3. Must have background in IP/Patent/Employment/Securities law - some jobs seems to want you to have experience in multiple areas of law. But if you don't have at least one of the aforementioned you are going to have trouble.
4. Most jobs seem to pay less than I am making now.
5. Most jobs seem to want someone with 3 to 8 years experience. It seems like being a Partner is actually a hinderance not a help.
6. If you are a white male, that's another black mark. Most online job applications ask your race - if you hit the "decline to say" button they know you are white. Let's be honest.

I find the whole law Biglaw thing pretty funny. Because as someone who worked in small law (albeit with major clients) and then Midlaw for the past 12 years, I worked quite a bit with Biglaw who was acting as national counsel or coordinating counsel.

My experience with these Biglaw associates was that while they were bright, they were very limited on what they were doing. Taking a depo? Forget it! They were drafting and checking footnotes in briefs and researching. I was the one taking and defending all the depositions and getting all the real legal experience. But none of that matters now.

I don't have the Biglaw stamp on my resume - and that is all that matters.

If you are willing to relocate things may be a bit easier.

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superttthero (Apr 22, 2019 - 11:42 am)

Any in-house position worth a damn is going to go to someone that was recommended or worked with the company as their associate/partner.

Getting in through applications doesn't seem to be even worth the time in most cases.

Maybe some very large companies with law departments employing an army of attorneys would be interested in hiring very junior positions, but if they are looking for 4+ years, they are going to hire someone they know or is recommended by someone they know. While it's probably happened, I can't recall anyone from my firm ever going in-house to somewhere who was not already a firm client.

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imoothereforeim (Apr 22, 2019 - 1:02 pm)

I have Biglaw and prestigious background. I once turned down an offer from Latham. Still, going in-house was really, really hard. In-house is its own track. Super3thero is correct on all accounts.

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2breedbares (Apr 22, 2019 - 1:04 pm)

Being white helps more than it hurts.

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williamdrayton (Apr 22, 2019 - 1:58 pm)

all hail the return of the small law/midlaw guy who brags about his "real legal experience" compared to his biglaw brethren.

4-5 years ago when the Law Forum was far more active than today, this guy reared his head on a pretty regular basis. while sometimes the guy would come out and say he was smarter and more capable than the biglaw drones, most often you had to read between the lines for the subtext

dude, your experience is not more "real" than what the biglaw pups do, it's just different. just as the neurosurgeon is "different" than the pediatrician, not in any way more "real" or "better"

yes it sucks that law has a such a strict hiring hierarchy and most of us can't break through regardless of how much experience we got on the junior varsity. but it is what it is

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mtbislife (Apr 22, 2019 - 2:14 pm)

Haha. I get paid about 120k less than biglaw attorneys but at least I’m a “real lawyer” for doing depositions!

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onehell (Apr 22, 2019 - 2:38 pm)

If you define in-house as being the legal department of a publicly-traded company in a major market, then yes you're going to have to come from biglaw and it cant be litigation. And by the way, drop the chip on the shoulder about "real lawyering." In house lawyers don't generally litigate, they farm that out. It's simply not the relevant skillset. Not to say a litigator does not have or cannot develop other skills, but they're not looking for someone who can kick someone else's rear-end in court. The people you're negotiating with are not your opponents in the traditional sense. On the contrary, they are people who the company is going to do business with.

You aren't trying to destroy them or their "case" so being a battle-scarred veteran of a thousand depos and 20 jury trials isn't something that they are failing to respect so much as something they are understandably regarding as not directly relevant.

That said, believe it or not, there are a lot of companies out there that aren't traded on any stock exchange. Some didn't even historically have in-house counsel, but then they hired someone for something else who happened to be a lawyer, found it useful, and made it a position. Or maybe if they haven't yet, they will one day. I hate to use the n-word, but do network. Volunteer on nonprofit boards, become known in the community, etc. Interact with people in a context other than some bitter dispute. Understand that litigation is an absolute last resort and your experience is confined to something people hate doing and don't do if they think they have a choice. Start thinking about how your knowledge can be used preventively, and be ready to explain that to others.

I've seen solos end up in-house this way. Stranger things have happened. But you have to think outside the box a bit. Smaller (but not tiny) companies, starting out in "law related" jobs, etc. etc.

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wutwutwut (Apr 22, 2019 - 6:38 pm)

Boston, did you decide to open that plaintiffs' firm, or are you still in ID?

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onehell (Apr 22, 2019 - 6:44 pm)

If he's in ID, then there's a whole other set of in-house jobs he could go for, those jobs where the carrier has brought the defenses in-house and is essentially running a captive law firm inside its walls. That's one of the rare examples of an in-house lit job and one he could certainly just apply to!

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