In-house, taking Qs

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In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:02 pm

I'll take questions for a bit about the corporate in-house lifestyle.

Quick, basic facts about the job:

1. Large, multi-national corporation.
2. Smallish legal department.
3. Major market.
4. Pay is "above market" for corp. in-house generally, and is around what a biglaw midlevel (3-4 yrs) might make all-in.

I'll try to answer stuff as best I can without outing myself (assuming this topic garners interest).

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zreinhar
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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby zreinhar » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:08 pm

what are your hours like? Are you actually able to take vacation time and such? how long where in private practice (if at all) before you made the jump?

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TommyK
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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby TommyK » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:09 pm

Can you give us an idea of what industry you're in and if you had significant exposure to that industry before making that switch?

How did you get into an in-house counsel position? Did you work in big law? If so, for how long?

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Knock
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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Knock » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:10 pm

Can you walk us through a typical day in the life of an in-house attorney?
What school did you attend and how was your GPA/class rank?

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:13 pm

zreinhar wrote:what are your hours like? Are you actually able to take vacation time and such? how long where in private practice (if at all) before you made the jump?


Hours are great, compared to biglaw (that's where I was before). A typical day is maybe 9:30 to 6:30. On rare occasions I stay later, e.g., for an international conference call where timezones come into play, but it's a pretty firm rule that nobody stays past 7 absent a call like that.

Vacation is easy. Don't want to get too specific but it's around a month's worth of time per year, and everyone uses it without any trouble. It's very rare that there's something going on that would even threaten to impinge on someone's vacation, and I've never seen anyone even discuss canceling.

I was in practice for roughly 4 years before coming here. The GC will not even consider candidates (in general--we're not looking for anyone right now) with less experience than that.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:17 pm

TommyK wrote:Can you give us an idea of what industry you're in and if you had significant exposure to that industry before making that switch?

How did you get into an in-house counsel position? Did you work in big law? If so, for how long?


Hmm, don't want to give myself up, but my company is involved in lots of different industries at the same time. That's something that makes the job much more enjoyable--the legal team is involved in all facets of the company's business, so we get to see a really wide range of issues. I didn't have any direct exposure to any particular industry, although the company was a client of my (biglaw) firm--that should also answer your question about how I got the job. I made friends in the company by working on matters with them, and developed an understanding of some more idiosyncratic needs that this company has.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:23 pm

Knock wrote:Can you walk us through a typical day in the life of an in-house attorney?
What school did you attend and how was your GPA/class rank?


Well, I don't know if I want to type out a whole timeline of a day, because each day varies a bit, but basically:

I come in at around 9:30 and check my email to see if anything urgent has developed. If not, I respond to what I got. Then I get to work on whatever tasks I have queued up--most in-house work is far from urgent. These tasks run the gamut, but the major repeat players are: 1) reviewing/revising agreements (and working with the business teams to help them renegotiate these agreements if necessary); 2) drafting agreements (+ meeting with business teams to understand what the agreements need to say); 3) advising internally; 4) work on various corporate compliance programs (this can include drafting/revising corporate policies); 5) managing outside counsel; 6) occasional employment law issues (e.g., investigating complaints).

edit: Maybe I should add this: I largely set my own schedule, and (obviously) I never have to bill my time. A portion of pretty much every day involves meetings, usually with people from other parts of the corporation. And, as I mentioned in an above post, I don't stay past 6:30 (nobody here does) unless there's something urgent or that specifically must be done at a later hour.

I attended HYS and my rank was decent (enough to get me a relatively prestigious firm job). I wasn't at the top of my class or anything.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Knock
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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Knock » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Knock wrote:Can you walk us through a typical day in the life of an in-house attorney?
What school did you attend and how was your GPA/class rank?


Well, I don't know if I want to type out a whole timeline of a day, because each day varies a bit, but basically:

I come in at around 9:30 and check my email to see if anything urgent has developed. If not, I respond to what I got. Then I get to work on whatever tasks I have queued up--most in-house work is far from urgent. These tasks run the gamut, but the major repeat players are: 1) reviewing/revising agreements (and working with the business teams to help them renegotiate these agreements if necessary); 2) drafting agreements (+ meeting with business teams to understand what the agreements need to say); 3) advising internally; 4) work on various corporate compliance programs (this can include drafting/revising corporate policies); 5) managing outside counsel; 6) occasional employment law issues (e.g., investigating complaints).

I attended HYS and my rank was decent (enough to get me a relatively prestigious firm job). I wasn't at the top of my class or anything.


Thank you!

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby zreinhar » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:36 pm

Does there seem to a be a preference for in house positions to hire those who attended prestigious schools? Or would something like working for the company in a previously different position be worth more than something like that? (currently an engineer, looking to maybe come back in-house for IP work post law school and a few years at a firm) Do you like you current position more than when you worked at the firm or is it not really an apples to apples comparison?

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby 99.9luft » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:38 pm

Q: is it possible for someone with, say, 2 years of experience in BigLaw litigation go in-House for corporate/int'l business law? if so, how likely is that (vs. having non-litigation experience)?

Thank you.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:46 pm

zreinhar wrote:Does there seem to a be a preference for in house positions to hire those who attended prestigious schools? Or would something like working for the company in a previously different position be worth more than something like that? (currently an engineer, looking to maybe come back in-house for IP work post law school and a few years at a firm) Do you like you current position more than when you worked at the firm or is it not really an apples to apples comparison?


I don't think there's a preference for more prestigious schools here, but that's just one data point. What firm you worked at beforehand matters much more--so if you went to Cooley but got a job at our primary outside counsel (well, that's not too likely, but whatever), and we were impressed with your work product, your school won't mean very much. We won't have to market you like a law firm does--we don't have potential clients that would be impressed by our saying that we hire from the top of the class at Harvard. That said, the CEO has to sign off on a new hire. Our word matters a lot, but a prestigious school would help us make the case to hire you.

Previous experience in a relevant industry would be a plus for us, but nobody here in the legal department really had that (so far as I know). Because of the nature of our business, however, language skills are very important--everyone here in the legal department is fluent in at least one foreign language, and hmm .. a couple that I can think of are trilingual. So--I guess the short answer to that question is that special skills can matter a lot, but it will be very specific to the company.

As for how I like it, well .. it's clearly better than biglaw, which is a very hard lifestyle. It's a little bittersweet acknowledging that you'll never make partner, but it's probably better for people with biglaw aspirations to acknowledge that before they even get to law school. Truth be told, it was a liberating realization--being a biglaw partner doesn't really look much better than being an associate, and I was getting pretty sick of that. So, I'm happier; however, not all in-house jobs are created equal, so I'm not sure how much weight you should assign to that. In general, the people I know who have gone in-house have been very happy with their choice, with the two most common reasons being 1) the hours and 2) not having to bill their time.

Curry

Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Curry » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:49 pm

How easy was it to get the position given your previous experience?

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:51 pm

99.9luft wrote:Q: is it possible for someone with, say, 2 years of experience in BigLaw litigation go in-House for corporate/int'l business law? if so, how likely is that (vs. having non-litigation experience)?

Thank you.


It's possible, but not very realistic. It wouldn't happen at my company--from our perspective, at most firms associates under around the 4th year have limited value. We instruct firms not to staff our matters with first years, for instance, because they rarely produce work that's worth what we're charged (or, alternatively, what they do has to be vetted by more senior and expensive attorneys, inflating their real cost to us).

Moreover, it seems unlikely that we would hire a litigation associate. We just don't do much, if any, litigation work in-house. What [litigation work] we do is manage outside counsel--and transactional attorneys can do that pretty much as well as litigators. Conversely, however, we do a lot of drafting of agreements and structuring of transactions--skills transactional attorneys build, unsurprisingly. So there is a clear preference here for transactional attorneys. I know that some companies (and this is increasingly prevalent) are taking smaller litigation matters entirely in-house, so former litigators might end up being more marketable as in-house counsel in the future. But for now, if you want to go in-house, biglaw litigation is generally the wrong path to take.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:54 pm

Curry wrote:How easy was it to get the position given your previous experience?


Not sure how to answer that, because I don't know too much about what the process looked like when they hired me. I knew the job was available because of my contacts with them when they were a client, but I'm not sure whether they actively recruited. The process wasn't difficult for me, though, and I wasn't a "superstar" associate at my firm.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby 99.9luft » Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
99.9luft wrote:Q: is it possible for someone with, say, 2 years of experience in BigLaw litigation go in-House for corporate/int'l business law? if so, how likely is that (vs. having non-litigation experience)?

Thank you.


It's possible, but not very realistic. It wouldn't happen at my company--from our perspective, at most firms associates under around the 4th year have limited value. We instruct firms not to staff our matters with first years, for instance, because they rarely produce work that's worth what we're charged (or, alternatively, what they do has to be vetted by more senior and expensive attorneys, inflating their real cost to us).

Moreover, it seems unlikely that we would hire a litigation associate. We just don't do much, if any, litigation work in-house. What [litigation work] we do is manage outside counsel--and transactional attorneys can do that pretty much as well as litigators. Conversely, however, we do a lot of drafting of agreements and structuring of transactions--skills transactional attorneys build, unsurprisingly. So there is a clear preference here for transactional attorneys. I know that some companies (and this is increasingly prevalent) are taking smaller litigation matters entirely in-house, so former litigators might end up being more marketable as in-house counsel in the future. But for now, if you want to go in-house, biglaw litigation is generally the wrong path to take.


Thank you, this makes a lot of sense.

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zreinhar
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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby zreinhar » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:08 pm

My bad for the lack of specificity. I was referring to work experience at the actual company at which you would like to go in-house. I.E. being an engineer at Sony, then patent counsel at Sony.

Anonymous User wrote:
zreinhar wrote:Does there seem to a be a preference for in house positions to hire those who attended prestigious schools? Or would something like working for the company in a previously different position be worth more than something like that? (currently an engineer, looking to maybe come back in-house for IP work post law school and a few years at a firm) Do you like you current position more than when you worked at the firm or is it not really an apples to apples comparison?


I don't think there's a preference for more prestigious schools here, but that's just one data point. What firm you worked at beforehand matters much more--so if you went to Cooley but got a job at our primary outside counsel (well, that's not too likely, but whatever), and we were impressed with your work product, your school won't mean very much. We won't have to market you like a law firm does--we don't have potential clients that would be impressed by our saying that we hire from the top of the class at Harvard. That said, the CEO has to sign off on a new hire. Our word matters a lot, but a prestigious school would help us make the case to hire you.

Previous experience in a relevant industry would be a plus for us, but nobody here in the legal department really had that (so far as I know). Because of the nature of our business, however, language skills are very important--everyone here in the legal department is fluent in at least one foreign language, and hmm .. a couple that I can think of are trilingual. So--I guess the short answer to that question is that special skills can matter a lot, but it will be very specific to the company.

As for how I like it, well .. it's clearly better than biglaw, which is a very hard lifestyle. It's a little bittersweet acknowledging that you'll never make partner, but it's probably better for people with biglaw aspirations to acknowledge that before they even get to law school. Truth be told, it was a liberating realization--being a biglaw partner doesn't really look much better than being an associate, and I was getting pretty sick of that. So, I'm happier; however, not all in-house jobs are created equal, so I'm not sure how much weight you should assign to that. In general, the people I know who have gone in-house have been very happy with their choice, with the two most common reasons being 1) the hours and 2) not having to bill their time.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:13 pm

zreinhar wrote:My bad for the lack of specificity. I was referring to work experience at the actual company at which you would like to go in-house. I.E. being an engineer at Sony, then patent counsel at Sony.

Anonymous User wrote:
zreinhar wrote:Does there seem to a be a preference for in house positions to hire those who attended prestigious schools? Or would something like working for the company in a previously different position be worth more than something like that? (currently an engineer, looking to maybe come back in-house for IP work post law school and a few years at a firm) Do you like you current position more than when you worked at the firm or is it not really an apples to apples comparison?


I don't think there's a preference for more prestigious schools here, but that's just one data point. What firm you worked at beforehand matters much more--so if you went to Cooley but got a job at our primary outside counsel (well, that's not too likely, but whatever), and we were impressed with your work product, your school won't mean very much. We won't have to market you like a law firm does--we don't have potential clients that would be impressed by our saying that we hire from the top of the class at Harvard. That said, the CEO has to sign off on a new hire. Our word matters a lot, but a prestigious school would help us make the case to hire you.

Previous experience in a relevant industry would be a plus for us, but nobody here in the legal department really had that (so far as I know). Because of the nature of our business, however, language skills are very important--everyone here in the legal department is fluent in at least one foreign language, and hmm .. a couple that I can think of are trilingual. So--I guess the short answer to that question is that special skills can matter a lot, but it will be very specific to the company.

As for how I like it, well .. it's clearly better than biglaw, which is a very hard lifestyle. It's a little bittersweet acknowledging that you'll never make partner, but it's probably better for people with biglaw aspirations to acknowledge that before they even get to law school. Truth be told, it was a liberating realization--being a biglaw partner doesn't really look much better than being an associate, and I was getting pretty sick of that. So, I'm happier; however, not all in-house jobs are created equal, so I'm not sure how much weight you should assign to that. In general, the people I know who have gone in-house have been very happy with their choice, with the two most common reasons being 1) the hours and 2) not having to bill their time.


Oh, sorry--that makes sense.

Well, without knowing anything about Sony, I'd say it'd probably be a plus. However, at least around here, the legal department does its own thing--of course we work with the business folks all day long, but when it comes to hiring, we're going to prefer the attorney we've worked with and whose work product we know is strong over someone recommended to us by the business unit. That said, if someone had both--that is, had worked with/impressed us AND had previously been an employee of the company, that person would be a slam dunk.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby laborday » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:15 pm

Does your department (or in-house generally) hire patent law associate? If so, which is easier to get in: patent prosecution or patent litigation? Usually how many years of big law firm experience is required?
Last edited by laborday on Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:18 pm

laborday wrote:Does your department hire patent law associate? If so, which is easier to get in: patent prosecution or patent litigation? Usually how many years of big law firm experience is required?


No, we don't have anyone who does patents. When IP issues come up, we typically use outside counsel. Sorry I can't be of more help.

As I said before, we don't consider anyone who doesn't have at least 4 years big firm experience.

edit: Sorry, I see you edited. Well, I'm sure a lot of tech companies do have patent attorneys in-house, and I would guess that there's more room for patent prosecution than patent litigation (I'd be more likely to hire an outside firm for the latter than the former). Beyond that, though, I just don't know that much about that kind of stuff.

Curry

Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Curry » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:28 pm

Thank you so much.

Do you know what percentage of your colleagues (or rather how likely it was for them) who worked in biglaw who then transitioned to inhouse?

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:34 pm

Curry wrote:Thank you so much.

Do you know what percentage of your colleagues (or rather how likely it was for them) who worked in biglaw who then transitioned to inhouse?


Hmm, that's tough to say. Quite a few, though. It was probably the most common exit option, save for simply lateraling to another law firm.

Curry

Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Curry » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Curry wrote:Thank you so much.

Do you know what percentage of your colleagues (or rather how likely it was for them) who worked in biglaw who then transitioned to inhouse?


Hmm, that's tough to say. Quite a few, though. It was probably the most common exit option, save for simply lateraling to another law firm.

Which option is easier? Also whats the rational for people who lateral instead of take inhouse?

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby ScrabbleChamp » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'll take questions for a bit about the corporate in-house lifestyle.

Quick, basic facts about the job:

1. Large, multi-national corporation.
2. Smallish legal department.
3. Major market.
4. Pay is "above market" for corp. in-house generally, and is around what a biglaw midlevel (3-4 yrs) might make all-in.
I'll try to answer stuff as best I can without outing myself (assuming this topic garners interest).


This is contrary to everything I've ever been told. I know at my multi-national firm that has been around for 200 years, our GC makes $450k with the possibility of a $450k bonus based on business performance. Most of the attorneys we have that I've spoken with make half what they did in BigLaw. Is there something specific about your company that necessitates they pay you as BigLaw associates, or have I been misinformed? It just seems odd that anyone would want to stay at BigLaw when they can make the same amount working in-house.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:42 pm

Curry wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Curry wrote:Thank you so much.

Do you know what percentage of your colleagues (or rather how likely it was for them) who worked in biglaw who then transitioned to inhouse?


Hmm, that's tough to say. Quite a few, though. It was probably the most common exit option, save for simply lateraling to another law firm.

Which option is easier? Also whats the rational for people who lateral instead of take inhouse?


Lateraling to another firm happens if someone isn't "ripe" for in-house (under roughly 3-4 years), just hasn't cultivated good relationships with a client, or isn't ready to give up on the partnership dream. (Or they're in litigation.)

It's also the case, though I don't happen to agree, that some people might prefer working at a firm--the work at firms can in some ways be more intellectually stimulating, and many/most in-house gigs entail a non-negligible pay cut (mine didn't really, but that's not typical).

It's not a matter of one being easier, because going in-house generally just requires good connections and timing--if those are in your favor, it can be very easy and painless. Lateraling is easier to do "cold," though, I guess.

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Re: In-house, taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:47 pm

ScrabbleChamp wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'll take questions for a bit about the corporate in-house lifestyle.

Quick, basic facts about the job:

1. Large, multi-national corporation.
2. Smallish legal department.
3. Major market.
4. Pay is "above market" for corp. in-house generally, and is around what a biglaw midlevel (3-4 yrs) might make all-in.
I'll try to answer stuff as best I can without outing myself (assuming this topic garners interest).


This is contrary to everything I've ever been told. I know at my multi-national firm that has been around for 200 years, our GC makes $450k with the possibility of a $450k bonus based on business performance. Most of the attorneys we have that I've spoken with make half what they did in BigLaw. Is there something specific about your company that necessitates they pay you as BigLaw associates, or have I been misinformed? It just seems odd that anyone would want to stay at BigLaw when they can make the same amount working in-house.


My company pays "above market." What I meant by that was that other companies typically pay less. So in that sense, what I've said ought to match up with what you've heard pretty well. I'm surprised to hear the "half-biglaw" figure, unless you're talking more about people who were senior associates.

As an aside, I'm not sure what you meant by your mention of the GC's salary + bonus, but $900K is more total comp than most biglaw partners make, particularly now that partner de-equitization is so rampant.

edit: I don't know why my company pays more, but the people here are very capable and intelligent, and morale is very high, so I think it's probably a good choice.




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