Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

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Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:42 am

2012 grad that went straight from law school to in-house counsel of a pro sports team.

There's the perception out there that going straight from LS to in-house is near impossible and that you need to do 3-5 min. at a large firm. While this perception is true to an extent (without a doubt still the most common route to get in-house), my situation is becoming more common. Why?

General counsel realize that some of the easy crap they're farming out to the firms to $500 an hour are being done by first-years. They also realize the job market sucks and that there's smart, capable grads willing to work for less than half of what big firm first-years make. By investing in Westlaw Next (in-house can get it at a fixed yearly fee rather than pay per search) and a new grad (also getting paid a fixed yearly salary), they can afford to have people like me do hundreds of hours of research and writing up certain docs and not worry about accruing crazy fees.

At the same time, general counsel can ease us new hires into the stuff that more senior in-house members handle with a limited amount of mentoring and training. I work on projects with different members of the department, and in two-three years I will have the tools and knowledge to handle the more complicated deals and transactions. I'll also get paid considerably less than someone who typically transitions from a large firm to in-house, providing another benefit to the organization.

Just wanted to let people know that this is a trend that is happening, and that if you have your heart set on going in-house, there's no harm in applying in-house as a 3L (or applying for internships with the lofty goal of getting hired). You never know which places are going to realize that it can make sense to hire a new grad for their department.

Feel free to ask questions.

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sportsaholic763
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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby sportsaholic763 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:49 am

How did you land this job with a sports franchise? Was it more so based on connections, the school you went to, etc? I feel like especially going to In House for pro sports would be near impossible.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby lukertin » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:52 am

sportsaholic763 wrote:How did you land this job with a sports franchise? Was it more so based on connections, the school you went to, etc? I feel like especially going to In House for pro sports would be near impossible.

Or Google.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:29 pm

sportsaholic763 wrote:How did you land this job with a sports franchise? Was it more so based on connections, the school you went to, etc? I feel like especially going to In House for pro sports would be near impossible.


No connections, interned here during 2L summer and got offered a position after graduation. Had average grades at T25. I did a thread about the work done in-house for a sports franchise (NFL) specifically when I started here about 6 months ago.

I wanted to start another thread for people interested in going in-house generally, to let them know about this trend. Maybe not at Google, but many in-house counsel are becoming less dependent on firms because of the factors I mentioned earlier.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:34 pm

I said pretty much the same thing to a GC I know who was complaining about law firm billing. Even though that company wants to hire 9 attorneys, she told me they have no intention of hiring a law grad. There's a bias/accepted dogma in most of that world that law grads are useless, even if it's not true anymore.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby sportsaholic763 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
sportsaholic763 wrote:How did you land this job with a sports franchise? Was it more so based on connections, the school you went to, etc? I feel like especially going to In House for pro sports would be near impossible.


No connections, interned here during 2L summer and got offered a position after graduation. Had average grades at T25. I did a thread about the work done in-house for a sports franchise (NFL) specifically when I started here about 6 months ago.



This is really cool. I mean, what did it take to land the summer 2L internship? I am absolutely not skeptical of your abilities, but more so skeptical of anyone in a similar position as you (T-25ish, etc.) to get this initial internship.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:36 pm

Where'd you find said internship? Did you just email the team your cover letter/resume or what?

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby SemperLegal » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:44 pm

Thanks for doing this. I have a list of questions, most of them dumb. Answer whatever ones you like

1. How many entry level attorneys do you work with?
2. Are you essentially the GC's junior associate, or are you given diffrent work?
3. How much do you interact with/help choose outside counsel?
4. How much office time is there?
5. How long is your workday?
6. Do you work weekends often?
7. About how much do you get paid?
8. Do they help pay for bar/CLE?
9. Do they get a chance to fulfill your pro bono "recommendation" if your state has one?
10. Do you work a lot with non-attorneys, or are you in a bubble?
11. Do you like it?
12. Do you get a lot of non-legal work?
13. Is there any sort of mentor available?
13b. Have you ever gotten stumped? I feel like in firms or PI you can normally ask your peers/supervisors and someone has a premade brief, or knows the caselaw, etc., what do you do when you have no professional safety net?
14. Any idea if there are exit options, or are you damaged goods?


Thanks

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:56 pm

sportsaholic763 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
sportsaholic763 wrote:How did you land this job with a sports franchise? Was it more so based on connections, the school you went to, etc? I feel like especially going to In House for pro sports would be near impossible.


No connections, interned here during 2L summer and got offered a position after graduation. Had average grades at T25. I did a thread about the work done in-house for a sports franchise (NFL) specifically when I started here about 6 months ago.



This is really cool. I mean, what did it take to land the summer 2L internship? I am absolutely not skeptical of your abilities, but more so skeptical of anyone in a similar position as you (T-25ish, etc.) to get this initial internship.


I applied to several sports organizations via snail mail. This team happened to post on Simplicity at my school (in same area) and I applied immediately, got an interview the next week (was during winter break) and for some reason they liked me. There were three legal interns that summer and I was the only one asked back full-time.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:14 pm

SemperLegal wrote:Thanks for doing this. I have a list of questions, most of them dumb. Answer whatever ones you like

1. How many entry level attorneys do you work with?
2. Are you essentially the GC's junior associate, or are you given diffrent work?
3. How much do you interact with/help choose outside counsel?
4. How much office time is there?
5. How long is your workday?
6. Do you work weekends often?
7. About how much do you get paid?
8. Do they help pay for bar/CLE?
9. Do they get a chance to fulfill your pro bono "recommendation" if your state has one?
10. Do you work a lot with non-attorneys, or are you in a bubble?
11. Do you like it?
12. Do you get a lot of non-legal work?
13. Is there any sort of mentor available?
13b. Have you ever gotten stumped? I feel like in firms or PI you can normally ask your peers/supervisors and someone has a premade brief, or knows the caselaw, etc., what do you do when you have no professional safety net?
14. Any idea if there are exit options, or are you damaged goods?


Thanks


Certainly nothing dumb about these questions; much more practical than most questions you see on this site.

1) I'm the only entry level attorney, although someone came straight out of law school 3 years ago.

2) I do work directly for the GC for most issues, although I do work with other members of the department if they get GC's permission.

3) Because I am handling some litigation matters, I do interact quite a bit with various outside counsel on particular matters. I also deal with specialized lawyers (i.e. IP, insurance) when we have questions about how to conduct certain deals. I certainly don't help choose outside counsel; we have established people we've gone to for years.

4-6) Typical workday is 8:30 - 5:30. There have been urgent projects where I've had to stay past 8, and I have worked weekends on occasion (although we have the ability to work remotely so I don't have to come into the office on weekends)

7) 60k

8 ) Yes, I passed two bars and they paid for both membership fees.

9) My state doesn't have a pro bono requirement, although our department pro bono work anyway.

10) (Probably my favorite part of working in-house) I work a lot with non-attorneys - management, marketing, finance, etc. It's crucial as a transactional lawyer to get their input to understand the nature of the deals and make sure we're accomplishing their goals.

11) I really do enjoy my work. As a business UG major, I like being sort of the legal member of a business team that gets contracts signed and deals done. The subject matter of the deals I work on is also interesting to me, which makes the job more enjoyable. Also, decent hours and no worries about billing (but also a relatively low salary).

12) No - pretty much all legal work.

13) I work in a department of about nine people (5 FT, 4 PT) and everyone is extremely helpful and approachable when I have questions. The GC is a great mentor.

14) I do have concerns about this - there's not much room for me to move up in the organization given the small size of the department. At this point I'm grateful and happy to have this job and haven given a ton of thought to exit strategy. We deal a lot with outside firms, and I interact with partners here and there. No idea what I'll do, but I'll be here for a while.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby 09042014 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:19 pm

As long as you are on a career track that puts you on a path to senior in-house council, this is a great choice.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby notedgarfigaro » Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:33 pm

thanks for this...I already know that I want to go in house at a health system, and I thought I'd missed the boat after striking out on big law. This gives me some slight hope.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I said pretty much the same thing to a GC I know who was complaining about law firm billing. Even though that company wants to hire 9 attorneys, she told me they have no intention of hiring a law grad. There's a bias/accepted dogma in most of that world that law grads are useless, even if it's not true anymore.


OP here. I completely agree. Oftentimes GCs just mindlessly give work back to their former firms because its the customary and easy thing to do. But with companies cracking down on outside legal costs, I think more and more GCs will realize that this is a way to save a good amount of $$$ without sacrificing work quality.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Kobe824 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:20 pm

I'd absolutely love to go down this career path. In Texas, I've seen quite a few oil and gas companies hire grads straight out of law school as associate legal counsel. The problem is that it's difficult to get an offer while in LS unless you've previously interned at that company -- I think it'd be easier once you're at least licensed. I don't think these companies want to wait for a student to graduate and then take the bar.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:03 am

1. How much research and writing is there during a typical week? Do you draft legal memos for GC to review?

2. It sounds like you do contract drafting/ reviewing. Do they train you on this or is there a checklist that is provided for review and a template to use for contract drafting?

3. Any tips when interviewing for in house position?

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby somewhatwayward » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:16 am

How do you know empirically that GCs are switching to hiring law grads in meaningful numbers? Sure, it makes sense, and it is apparently what happened in your case (although given that your two co-interns got no job it seems wiser to go to a firm that offers most of its SAs if you can), but that doesn't mean that there has been a change in hiring practices that people should rely on. My concern is just that people who are deciding whether to go to law school or deciding whether to drop out after missing the OCI boat will see your assertion and think that getting hired in-house is a viable backup plan. In the minds of 0Ls/desperate law students, one thread labelled "trend" = irrefutable proof that GCs are now hiring thousands of recent law grads....and, well, to be fair, 'trend' does kind of imply a large scale.

I'm not knocking you at all. It sounds like you landed a job that is a good fit for you, so congratulations on that.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby romothesavior » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:34 am

This is interesting and the job sounds really cool. Like somewhatwayward, I'm also very hesitant to conclude that there is a noticeable shift in hiring practices by GCs, and anecdotal evidence of my own seems to indicate that GCs are actually less likely to hire law grads thanks to ITE. I know of two reputable employers who pre-ITE hired law school "SA"-type interns with the intention of hiring them on full-time, but due to budget constraints brought on by the economy, they've cut these programs and now require a few years of experience before getting on.

These are, of course, just anecdotes. Your own anecdote breaks the other way and is pretty interesting, and there may in fact be a trend. But I think it's hard to make any conclusions without more extensive data, and I think we can all agree that for the average law student, going in-house right off the bat is going to be a very uphill battle.

I'm pretty jealous of your job though, sounds like an absolute dream gig. Good luck with everything, OP.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby romothesavior » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:36 am

Not sure if you've had much exposure to this, but what would a GC of a sports team be looking for in outside hires? (think 3-5 year associates coming from firms)

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:44 am

somewhatwayward wrote:How do you know empirically that GCs are switching to hiring law grads in meaningful numbers? Sure, it makes sense, and it is apparently what happened in your case (although given that your two co-interns got no job it seems wiser to go to a firm that offers most of its SAs if you can), but that doesn't mean that there has been a change in hiring practices that people should rely on. My concern is just that people who are deciding whether to go to law school or deciding whether to drop out after missing the OCI boat will see your assertion and think that getting hired in-house is a viable backup plan. In the minds of 0Ls/desperate law students, one thread labelled "trend" = irrefutable proof that GCs are now hiring thousands of recent law grads....and, well, to be fair, 'trend' does kind of imply a large scale.

I'm not knocking you at all. It sounds like you landed a job that is a good fit for you, so congratulations on that.


Maybe I shouldn't have used the word trend - didn't mean for it to be misleading in any way. I don't have hard data to back up my claim, although I have spoken with the GC about this topic on multiple occasions and he said there is definitely a shift in the way in-house counsels are doing business. They're becoming less reliant on big firms, and more reliant on their ability to do legal research and handle less complicated matters because of better technology. Along with this, some are hiring recent grads to do work they would have farmed out in past years. Whether there's thousands of new job openings - almost certainly not.

My point is, and I tried to make this clear in the original post, is that people should not just assume that an in-house counsel position is only attainable after working several years at a firm. It's true that some companies will never hire a recent grad for their in-house department. However, it makes sense for current law students to speak with in-house attorneys at companies they're interested in, to see what their deal is. As I said earlier, by far the most common track to getting in-house is still after working at a big firm. My path is not by any means a "viable back-up plan" but rather one of many options that students can look into.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby romothesavior » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:I don't have hard data to back up my claim, although I have spoken with the GC about this topic on multiple occasions and he said there is definitely a shift in the way in-house counsels are doing business. They're becoming less reliant on big firms, and more reliant on their ability to do legal research and handle less complicated matters because of better technology. Along with this, some are hiring recent grads to do work they would have farmed out in past years.

This is an interesting insight, thanks for sharing.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby guano » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:58 am

I actually disagree with the dogma that it makes more sense to hire in-house first years eager than farming if out to law firms.
The same logic applies to why companies often obtain staff through temp agencies, it's expensive and cumbersome to take on new staff and you don't want to be hiring and firing frequently, so unless you know you need the extra staff full time and long term, it's more cost efficient to get outside help (so no new staff for ad hoc or short term projects); this is particularly true for projects that need a particular expertise.

Additionally, there's the added consideration of leveraging the outside firm's reputation (and liability), which very few people on this board can truly value the importance of (hint: it's far more important than you think)

Believe it or not, there's a reason the current system developed the way it did. Yes, a company can cut costs by doing more in house, and there will be some spots opening up, but to hail the concept as some kind of panacea is a mistake

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby BlueJeanBaby » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:17 am

tag

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:35 am

guano wrote:I actually disagree with the dogma that it makes more sense to hire in-house first years eager than farming if out to law firms.
The same logic applies to why companies often obtain staff through temp agencies, it's expensive and cumbersome to take on new staff and you don't want to be hiring and firing frequently, so unless you know you need the extra staff full time and long term, it's more cost efficient to get outside help (so no new staff for ad hoc or short term projects); this is particularly true for projects that need a particular expertise.

Additionally, there's the added consideration of leveraging the outside firm's reputation (and liability), which very few people on this board can truly value the importance of (hint: it's far more important than you think)

Believe it or not, there's a reason the current system developed the way it did. Yes, a company can cut costs by doing more in house, and there will be some spots opening up, but to hail the concept as some kind of panacea is a mistake


OP Here: It depends on the company, but in many cases this shift makes perfect sense. Big firms still do a lot of our work, and we look towards specialists on a project-project basis, but the fact that is that companies are becoming more frugal and understanding that legal costs can be significantly decreased without a decrease in quality. A huge part of making this work is having a GC who can identify the work that can just as easily be done in-house, without much risk. This doesn't necessarily mean that GCs should hire new grads to do the work, but in some cases it makes sense. Of course if an in-house counsel suddenly tried to do everything themselves, they would fail miserably.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:1. How much research and writing is there during a typical week? Do you draft legal memos for GC to review?

2. It sounds like you do contract drafting/ reviewing. Do they train you on this or is there a checklist that is provided for review and a template to use for contract drafting?

3. Any tips when interviewing for in house position?


1) Lots of research. Writing memos to the GC or someone within the organization on a daily basis.

2) Most of our work involves contracts - if drafting ourselves, we almost always have some sort of template or previous contract to work with. There's a lot of contract negotiation with other parties and resolving disputes about the use of particular clauses or language.

3) An interview probably wouldn't be much different than one at a law firm. Given the nature of in-house I would stress any sort of business background or experience with contracts/labor law.

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Re: Trend - In-House Straight out of Law School

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:24 pm

Not OP. This is definitely a trend-- I am interviewing for an in-house position with a major corporation next week. The position focuses on M&A and licensing work, and was recruiting T14 grads.

I've also seen at least two other major corporations with similar plans. The recession led some big companies to dump outside counsel for transactional work and put together their own legal teams.

My biggest concern is that I won't be able to lateral after 3 years if things don't go well. Any insights on this OP?




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