As I wrap up this week’s discussion on exploring an in-house career, I cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of networking! Research consistently shows that most job seekers land a job through networking. In fact, 70% of Florida Coastal grads find their first job through networking. In order to position yourself for an in-house counsel position, you should start establishing meaningful connections with in-house lawyers during law school. Many in-house lawyers belong to the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global voluntary bar association exclusively for attorneys who practice law as employees of private sector organizations and who do not hold themselves out to the public for the practice of law. The North Florida chapter of the ACC allows law students to participate in their chapter activities free of charge. If you are interested in learning more about student involvement in the ACC, please email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I will notify you of upcoming ACC events. The Career Services Department (CSD) can also facilitate connections with alumni who work in-house to set up informational interviews so that you can learn more about what it’s really like to work in-house. Make an appointment with a CSD counselor today to develop a personalized networking strategy. In addition to traditional networking, networking through social media has become increasingly relevant in recent years, and law students are well advised to establish a professional social media presence. Stop by the CSD library for resources to help you get started. I personally recommend Amanda Ellis’ The 6Ps of the Big 3 for Job-Seeking JDs, which is tailored to law students and lawyers and walks you through establishing profiles, navigating, and utilizing the three major social networking websites(LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) for your job search. LinkedIn also offers a weekly webinar, LinkedIn 101: The basics of LinkedIn, every Wednesday at 2pm (EST). The earlier you start to position yourself for your dream job, the more attainable it will be!
If yesterday’s overview of in-house counsel positions sparked your interest and you aspire to work in-house, one of the best things that you can do now, in addition to internships and externships (see yesterday’s discussion), is to stay current on issues relevant to in-house lawyers. Check out InsideCounsel and the law.com network’s Corporate Counsel. Both websites allow you to register for free email alerts that deliver the latest news and trends affecting the in-house counsel world directly to your inbox. On the InsideCounsel website, click the eNewsletter tab at the top to sign up for email alerts. To register for the Corporate Counsel alerts, click the alert icon on the law.com homepage. Also, check out the ABA’s list of in-house counsel blogs. As the summer winds down, take some time to review these resources and learn more about working in-house to determine whether it is a path you want to pursue. In addition to checking Symplicity regularly for job opportunities, check out goinhouse.com for in-house attorney job postings. Goinhouse.com includes entry level positions and internships. Stay tuned tomorrow for advice on making connections with in-house attorneys through networking!
If you are interested in working as an in-house attorney, now is the time to learn about the various roles within an in-house legal department and seek out practical in-house experience. The first step to exploring an in-house career is to learn what an in-house attorney does and consider the pros and cons of working in-house as opposed to traditional private practice.
In-house attorneys can work for public or private corporations, non-profit organizations, or government agencies, and in-house legal departments come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Large legal departments are usually comprised of a general counsel, an assistant general counsel, and a team of staff attorneys. The larger the legal department, the more likely the lawyers are to specialize in a particular area such as litigation or mergers and acquisitions. In smaller legal departments, the lawyers are more likely to be generalists who are responsible for handling a wide variety of legal matters.
According to NALP’s Going In-House: A Guide for Law Students and Recent Graduates, some of the advantages of working in-house include working for a single client, being closely involved in the success of the business, having significant responsibility on a variety of legal projects, and enjoying a higher quality of life. While in-house lawyers do not have the pressure of billable hour expectations associated with private practice, Going In-House also cites several disadvantages of working in-house, which include job security as in-house lawyers are subject to the successes and failures of the business, lower compensation compared to attorneys in private practice, and a lack of camaraderie with other lawyers, which is particularly applicable to organizations with small legal departments.
Students who are interested in working in-house should take advantage of opportunities for practical experience with in-house legal departments, including internships (paid work experience) and externships (for credit work experience). Click here to access a listing of Florida Coastal’s externship opportunities. While the traditional path to a coveted in-house position includes “paying your dues” in private practice, some in-house legal departments, particularly at large corporations, are hiring directly out of law school. Click here to read an article from InsideCounsel discussing innovative lawyer recruiting and training programs at two large corporations. The article also highlights four attorneys who landed in-house positions right out of law school.
For more information about in-house counsel careers, stop by the CSD library. Some of our resources include NALP’s Going In-House: A Guide for Law Students and Recent Graduates by Donna Gerson, Esq.; Vault’s Guide to Corporate Law Careers; and The 2011-2012 Directory of Corporate Counsel.
Follow my blog throughout the week to learn more about exploring an in-house career!
Check out this article from Corporate Counsel, Women GCs Are Networking Their Way to the Top, emphasizing the importance of professional networking throughout your legal career. The article recaps a panel discussion presented by the New York City Bar Association that focused on the increasing number of women general counsel at Fortune 500 companies. According to the article, forming and maintaining professional relationships is a necessary element for success.