Lateral Advice

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Anonymous User
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Lateral Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:55 am

Hi,

I am currently law clerk (Corporate Counsel to be once I swear in) for a mid sized company (private company/closely held - $100 mil in revenue annually) that has the potential to grow. I took the job despite the low amount of legal work because 1) I didn't have a job coming out of LS and 2) the potential seemed tremendous.

But it has become apparent that my hiring was to fill the CEO's executive assistant position. I am responsible for overseeing/managing approx 40 ish commercial leases along with IP and corporate restructuring work. However, I don't do legal work 100% of the time and get confused at times what my true role is with the company. I know I took the job mostly due to the potential of the company growing tremendously. I do see the potential happening within the next 2-3 years. On top of that I am currently the only legal counsel for the company. Occasionally, the CEO calls me general counsel (lol - I tell him to stop). And the CEO tells me he wants to build a legal team eventually around me (I doubt him sometimes).

Yes, I have zero oversight at the company. However, I receive "indirect" mentorship and oversight from our outside counsel. My company is my attorney mentor's client - she got me the job.

Some days I feel like there will be a great future but some days I'm not sure if this is what I should be doing. I do random shit the CEO asks me to do and despite being on the advisory board and executive committee, I don't get the respect I deserve. The executives treat me like I'm their damn assistant. I understand in my company's industry I am a baby but seriously - I am more qualified than any of them education wise.

It would be great if TLSers could provide me with their insight as to what I should do next for my career-sake. The CEO sounds as if he cares for me and is extremely good at painting a beautiful picture but he's a businessman and I have my doubts. I graduated in 2013 and I have been working at this job for approx 6 months. I get paid not as much as I should be as an attorney - however, my hours are great so I can't legitimately bitch (830 am to 530 pm).

I'm just afraid I'll end up being stuck at this company not being able to lateral. Should I wait until I get sworn in to start applying to other jobs? Should I wait it out? It's just a little frustrating because there is so much uncertainty and I feel like I'm not getting "trained." Am I in a good spot? Any opinion/advice is appreciated.

Thanks.

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guano
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby guano » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:40 am

Disclaimer: I have no experience with legal hiring

If the company does grow big enough to justify building a legal team around you, that would be a great outcome. However, you need to keep in mind that this might not happen. Either because the work isn't there, the company fails, the CEO doesn't put the effort into it, or any other reason. If you are interested in the potential of being a full time general counsel with your own team, this is a an opportunity, but you should also keep exit options in mind.

Firstly, if the CEO sometimes refers to you as his general counsel, perhaps you can get him to make that your official title somewhere down the line (perhaps in lieu of a raise/bonus). That will look good on your resume. Hell, you're already on the executive committee and advisory board. That's serious shit to have on your resume, even if it doesn't mean anything in actuality.

Secondly, just because you don't do legal work all the time, doesn't mean your resume needs to reflect that. Just list the legal work you actually do. At small companies it is quite normal to do things that have nothing to do with your job description.

Third, start building contacts. Anyone you ever interact with might one day be able to help you land a job. Perhaps your mentor will one day have a vacancy. Perhaps a counter-party to a contract will need extra people in the future. You never know. But, the higher up the food chain, the more likely that the person can help you in the future.

Fourth, get the skills and experience you need, and keep an eye out. It's not unusual for a law firm to need to fill a vacancy with someone who has experience with e.g. commercial leases. You might not be getting any training, but, that doesn't mean you're not learning. Besides, you should always be teaching yourself more shit, honing your skills, etc.

Fifth, you might not think you get the respect you deserve, but, do you really deserve it? You've been with the company for 6 months and haven't even been sworn in. Don't be arrogant. You might have more education than the executives, but you are most definitely not more qualified than any of them. As far as they're concerned, you're a fucking baby, and the way you complain about it, I'd say you're a cry-baby. You want respect? go earn it.

Lastly, and most importantly, you should always be looking for another job. I once heard someone say that your job isn't your job, your job is looking for your next job. That doesn't mean you don't make sure you do your work. It means that while you do your work, you also work on building your resume and your network, so that when an opportunity presents itself, you can take it.

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emciosn
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby emciosn » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:46 am

Am I the only one who thinks this sounds like a pretty sweet gig? You do some (semi-interesting?) legal work, great hours, you appear to have quite a bit of autonomy, you are the only in-house lawyer, you have direct access to the CEO/exec. committee, and you are in at the ground level of what seems like a fairly solid company. That seems pretty good for someone who is six months out of law school. In 5-10 years once you establish your self and earn the respect of the CEO/execs you could be in a great position.

I don't know the whole story, I don't know what your day is like, and I don't want to judge you based on a single post BUT you come off as a little entitled here. The stuff about not getting the "respect you deserve" and not getting interesting enough work is what leads me to say this. You are only six months out of law school (as am I)--what do you think you would be doing at a firm? How do you think you would be treated at a firm? Any differently? My uneducated guess is that the execs are still feeling you out. I bet if you continue to churn out high quality work product you will earn the right to work on higher level stuff and more respect. I think 6 months when you are fresh out of law school may just be too short of a time. Also lateraling after such a short time may be difficult since you could come off as a little flaky but if you have a compelling reason maybe not.

I really hesitate to write the preceding paragraph because, again, I don' t know the whole story but that is just how the post came off to me. Jobs are tough to come by for fresh grads--I think you will be hard pressed to find someone on these boards that will tell you to leave (just check out the Vale of Tears thread...)

jkech
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby jkech » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:04 pm

I agree this sounds like it is a pretty sweet gig. Part of being in-house at any corporate job entails doing some non-legal/quasi-legal stuff. Enjoy it; variety can be good. One of the great advantages of being in-house counsel is that people within the company tend to value your opinion and judgment on both legal and business matters. At a lot of huge companies lead corporate counsel tend to be high ranking VPs and are often involved in most business decisions.

Now, from what it sounds like you haven't been at this place for very long. You can't expect everyone in management to start treating you with instant respect just because you have a law degree. As in any job, you have to prove yourself first. That might be a slower process than you are used to, but you are an outsider with a legal, not a business background, so naturally they might not think to include you in every decision they make right now. Use the advisory meetings and other conferences as a place to try to shine and show them your value. If you are simply feeling a lack of respect and involvement, I would wait it out for a bit. The company sounds like it is a legit operation and they are growing. Your hours are great and I'm assuming if your pay is comparable to a firm associate making market, your pay is really great for the hours.

What you say about being treated as an assistant is more troubling, but just what do you mean when you say that? Are you making copies and scheduling their meetings and answering their calls? Are you asked to bring the executives their coffee? If yes to those questions, I would say you have a problem. But I suspect your view of what being treated as an "assistant" is quite different. If its simply that your opinions at this point are merely taken as advisory or that you are not brought in on many executive decisions yet, again you may need to just prove yourself for a bit.

You sound like you have good job security right now; use this time to wait out the bad job market. Then lateral later if you really hate it or if things are not working out as promised. At any rate, even if you could lateral right away, you should stick this out for a bit just so it doesn't look like you are the kind of person who jumps ship after a few months.

Anonymous User
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:09 pm

Thanks everyone for your input. I really appreciate it. I have to constantly try to remind myself how lucky I am given the current legal market.

Yes, I do schedule meetings sometimes and coordinate the advisory board and executive committee meetings. I create agendas and the notes for those meetings as well. And yes, I do make copies of the agendas/notes I created for the executives for the meetings. But no, I don't get them coffee and do legitimate secretarial tasks. Also, I guess I am truly an "executive assistant" to the CEO only.

As for my pay it is slightly less than half of the big law market pay. So no, my pay is not that great. However, I hear that it is the same amount the big 4 pays in my market.

I guess my frustration originates from me not knowing what kids out of law school are doing at firms. It's mostly the organic/uncertain role I have with the company.

I really like the idea of using this job to wait out the bad legal market. Yes, I was planning on possibly lateraling after 1-2 years given there is no movement/raise.

Sorry if I sound entitled and arrogant. I'm really not. I don't have the qualifications to be like that. It's just I'm frustrated.

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guano
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby guano » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I do schedule meetings sometimes and coordinate the advisory board and executive committee meetings. I create agendas and the notes for those meetings as well. And yes, I do make copies of the agendas/notes I created for the executives for the meetings

Um, that's actually important shit, believe it or not.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Lateral Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:21 pm

guano wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I do schedule meetings sometimes and coordinate the advisory board and executive committee meetings. I create agendas and the notes for those meetings as well. And yes, I do make copies of the agendas/notes I created for the executives for the meetings

Um, that's actually important shit, believe it or not.


Yeah, I know but I'm not officially a secretary on paper. Our CEO is everything (treasurer, secretary, etc).

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guano
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby guano » Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
guano wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I do schedule meetings sometimes and coordinate the advisory board and executive committee meetings. I create agendas and the notes for those meetings as well. And yes, I do make copies of the agendas/notes I created for the executives for the meetings

Um, that's actually important shit, believe it or not.


Yeah, I know but I'm not officially a secretary on paper. Our CEO is everything (treasurer, secretary, etc).

I mean, it's important work, whether you consider it important or not.
While on paper the CEO is everything (by the way, this is another title you can acquire later) on paper you are on the advisory board and the executive committee, so STFU, and be grateful that your position is a résumé builder's wet dream

Anonymous User
Posts: 273310
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Lateral Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:23 am

guano wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
guano wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I do schedule meetings sometimes and coordinate the advisory board and executive committee meetings. I create agendas and the notes for those meetings as well. And yes, I do make copies of the agendas/notes I created for the executives for the meetings

Um, that's actually important shit, believe it or not.


Yeah, I know but I'm not officially a secretary on paper. Our CEO is everything (treasurer, secretary, etc).

I mean, it's important work, whether you consider it important or not.
While on paper the CEO is everything (by the way, this is another title you can acquire later) on paper you are on the advisory board and the executive committee, so STFU, and be grateful that your position is a résumé builder's wet dream


OK. Thoughts/opinions on pushing for a General Counsel title despite my lack of experience? I am set to be Corporate Counsel post-swear in.

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guano
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby guano » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:OK. Thoughts/opinions on pushing for a General Counsel title despite my lack of experience? I am set to be Corporate Counsel post-swear in.

On day one? No. But, after a few years, you could ask for it in lieu of a raise (titles don't cost anything)

Anonymous User
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Re: Lateral Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:54 am

bump




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