In-House Counsel Taking Qs

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In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:45 pm

TLS has always been a useful source of information over the years, figure I'll pay it back. Want to stay anonymous, so I'll decline to respond to questions that require divulging more information than I think prudent, but ask away if you have questions about what it's like.

I'm fairly junior, and it's a recognizable and global company. I'll decline to name industry.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

toothbrush
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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby toothbrush » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:50 pm

Thanks for taking q's. To start it off:
- How many in-house counsel are there at your job? How often do they hire?
- What was process for finding out about vacancy/applying?
- Did you work in big law? Firm range? Corp/lit? Do you think litigators are able to get in-house jobs?
- Salary range at your co or others that you know of (this is widely discussed on tls)
- What skills are most transferable from big law (if applicable); what skills do use most often?
- What is a typical day like for you?
Last edited by toothbrush on Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:TLS has always been a useful source of information over the years, figure I'll pay it back. Want to stay anonymous, so I'll decline to respond to questions that require divulging more information than I think prudent, but ask away if you have questions about what it's like.

Can you give us a bit on industry, size of the company, how junior/senior you are, etc. so we better know what to ask? My questions are very different if you are in a start up compared to GE.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby RCSOB657 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:TLS has always been a useful source of information over the years, figure I'll pay it back. Want to stay anonymous, so I'll decline to respond to questions that require divulging more information than I think prudent, but ask away if you have questions about what it's like.

Can you give us a bit on industry, size of the company, how junior/senior you are, etc. so we better know what to ask? My questions are very different if you are in a start up compared to GE.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:TLS has always been a useful source of information over the years, figure I'll pay it back. Want to stay anonymous, so I'll decline to respond to questions that require divulging more information than I think prudent, but ask away if you have questions about what it's like.

Can you give us a bit on industry, size of the company, how junior/senior you are, etc. so we better know what to ask? My questions are very different if you are in a start up compared to GE.


I'm fairly junior, and it's a recognizable and global company. I'll decline to name industry.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:03 pm

toothbrush wrote:Thanks for taking q's. To start it off:
- How many in-house counsel are there at your job? How often do they hire?
- What was process for finding out about vacancy/applying?
- Did you work in big law? Firm range? Corp/lit? Do you think litigators are able to get in-house jobs?
- Salary range at your co or others that you know of (this is widely discussed on tls)
- What skills are most transferable from big law (if applicable); what skills do use most often?
- What is a typical day like for you?


-Hundreds. Very infrequently.
-I won't talk that much about how I was hired specifically or what I did before this, but more generally people here either had firm experience (tend to be fairly good firms) or they worked in-house at a company that developed similar skills/expertise to what they need here. Litigators are able to get in-house jobs, yes, though more have corp experience than lit.
-I'm not actually aware of what my coworkers make, but I'm well-compensated. My salary is comparable to what I would earn in biglaw.
-This tends to depend on the type of work you do in-house. There are a wide range of lawyers in-house and the skills demanded in each position can vary a fair bit. This is what makes it somewhat hard for giving advice on what to do exactly to position yourself to transition--it will depend on the needs of whatever position opens up at that company. As with all legal positions, attention to detail is pretty critical and good writing skills will always help. Being able to multi-task is key. Did you have any skills in mind you were wondering about?

Typical Day:
Deal with e-mails from 8:30am-9:00am
9:00am-5:00pm Mix of meetings(so many meetings), answering questions from clients, and trying to work on longer-term (as in, lasting more than a day) projects. A lot of running around. I spend most days eating lunch at my desk while on a meeting.
5:00-6:00/6:30 Work on items that need full attention and focus; respond to e-mails coming in from other in-house counsel as they try to wind down as well.
I check my work e-mail when I'm not in the office for anything urgent, but most things can normally wait till morning, or can be taken care of with a quick e-mail.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby TTTooKewl » Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:11 pm

Thanks for doing this OP.

1) Are you in a major, coastal market?

2) What is the general age range of other in-house counsel holding junior positions, such as yours?

3) What is attrition like? You say your company hires infrequently--is it appropriate to infer that people who land there tend to stay there?

4) What do career trajectories look like once in-house? Do most people climb the ladder / or only the most driven? How does the pay scale? How do job responsibilities change?

5) When people do leave, why do they leave, and to what types of jobs do they go?

Thanks again.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby cookiejar1 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:31 pm

Can you comment on this post from another thread and add more numbers? Just curious about in house compensation.

WhirledWorld wrote:Re: in-house legal jobs...

Salaries vary widely, obviously, but for the sake of throwing out a number, I'd say 150-250k base salary plus maybe 50k bonus is pretty normal for a midlevel exit into an in-house job at a F500 or comparable. All-in comp can vary wildly, however -- I know folks at banks/other financial institutions who clear over $500k after bonus and stock grants/options. You typically also enjoy 401k matching.

Government jobs have much lower ceilings, obviously, usually in the low six figures.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:25 pm

(1) I will be an SA at a V5 next summer. I will probably do corporate. What are some steps I can take to get an in-house legal job as early as possible in my career?

(2) What is a fairly good firm? How much does being at a good firm help in the hiring process? (Thinking about shopping around).

Thanks a ton for doing this.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:29 am

1) F500? F100? Just trying to get an idea of how big of a company we're talking about.

2) You said you are compensated well. Would you mind telling us what you started at, and how many years of experience you had at your firm when you went in-house? Base salary, and any quantifiable benefits (bonuses, stock options, etc.), if possible.

3) Do people seem to want to stay at your company long-term, and is there a good amount of upward mobility?

4) Any regrets about going in-house? Anything you wish you knew before making the switch?

Edit: Thanks for doing this.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:04 pm

TTTooKewl wrote:Thanks for doing this OP.

1) Are you in a major, coastal market?

2) What is the general age range of other in-house counsel holding junior positions, such as yours?

3) What is attrition like? You say your company hires infrequently--is it appropriate to infer that people who land there tend to stay there?

4) What do career trajectories look like once in-house? Do most people climb the ladder / or only the most driven? How does the pay scale? How do job responsibilities change?

5) When people do leave, why do they leave, and to what types of jobs do they go?

Thanks again.


1) Yes.
2) I'll decline to answer this, but in general the younger people in the office are in their early 30s.
3) Very low. People who end up here do indeed to stay here for a least a decade.
4) Our hierarchy is relatively flat, so there's not actually a lot of room to rise in regards to pure title. There are people who have been here for 10+ years without a promotion in title, though I assume they get a raise in compensation. The higher you go, the less legal work you do, and the more management you do. The only information I know about our pay scale is from external stuff like glassdoor.
5) They tend to go to jobs where they may have a much higher-ranking position at smaller, lesser-known companies. I don't know their reasons for leaving, though I suppose because they'd like a higher-ranking position even if at a smaller-company if they don't think they have a shot at reaching the same levels with us.

cookiejar1 wrote:Can you comment on this post from another thread and add more numbers? Just curious about in house compensation.

WhirledWorld wrote:Re: in-house legal jobs...

Salaries vary widely, obviously, but for the sake of throwing out a number, I'd say 150-250k base salary plus maybe 50k bonus is pretty normal for a midlevel exit into an in-house job at a F500 or comparable. All-in comp can vary wildly, however -- I know folks at banks/other financial institutions who clear over $500k after bonus and stock grants/options. You typically also enjoy 401k matching.

Government jobs have much lower ceilings, obviously, usually in the low six figures.


Glassdoor indicates that our salary ranges for the lower titles (more senior people probably won't post to glassdoor, too easy to be discovered) seems to be 180-290ish base salary plus bonus, indeed around the 30-60K range.

Anonymous User wrote:(1) I will be an SA at a V5 next summer. I will probably do corporate. What are some steps I can take to get an in-house legal job as early as possible in my career?

(2) What is a fairly good firm? How much does being at a good firm help in the hiring process? (Thinking about shopping around).

Thanks a ton for doing this.


Unfortunately, from what I can see, there's a lot of luck in this in terms of having your skill set match whatever random job postings come up. There's also a lot of situations where you build a relationship with a client as outside counsel, and then they bring you inside. So I suppose, try to do a good job at producing useful work product for the client. Random Tip: Don't bury your answer. Few things annoy me more than having to read your entire memo to find the answer buried deep in some random paragraph in the middle. I'll read the entire thing, but in terms of my daily schedule, I'll probably read your answer first thing when I get it in order to get an idea of what I might need to do going forward, and then I'll read the entire thing at the end of the day. If I'm being forced to read the entire thing right when I get it, I'm being forced to allocate my time inefficiently while under a lot of time pressure, and I'll resent the writer for it (esp. because I know the memo cost us a lot of money to purchase from your firm).

2) It's hard to say, because law firm reputations change with time, and I don't know what the reputations of these firms were right when my co-corkers joined these firms (because some haven't worked at a firm in decades). Some random ones of coworkers that come to mind include firms like Skadden, Ropes, Wilson Sonsini, and Wilkie.

Anonymous User wrote:1) F500? F100? Just trying to get an idea of how big of a company we're talking about.

2) You said you are compensated well. Would you mind telling us what you started at, and how many years of experience you had at your firm when you went in-house? Base salary, and any quantifiable benefits (bonuses, stock options, etc.), if possible.

3) Do people seem to want to stay at your company long-term, and is there a good amount of upward mobility?

4) Any regrets about going in-house? Anything you wish you knew before making the switch?

Edit: Thanks for doing this.


1) I'm only willing to say F500, and not narrow it down further. You definitely have heard of us and know about our products, though.
2) I'll just say that I didn't take a pay cut from going in-house, but I also hadn't reached partner level.
3) There isn't necessarily a lot of upward mobility, but people definitely stay long-term. People lateral between groups and positions here fairly often, so even if their official title isn't changing, the type of work they do changes, which helps to keep the job interesting, engaging, and dynamic. The hours are better than they would be at a firm by a decent margin, which really helps with the work/life balance concept, and the compensation is enough to very comfortably raise a family with, even if you're not making what you would as a law firm partner. (I think, again all I have is glassdoor salary info). I'm actually not all that concerned about how quickly I rise here, or whether I ever do at all, as long as I continue to feel engaged and challenged, which I expect to.
4) Not at all, but my personality and strengths are well-matched for in-house. My close friends from law school always expected me to go in-house from the get-go. YMMV.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:09 pm

What would you say the least stressful practice groups are? Most stressful? What about hours worked -- are they all around the same or varies by group?

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:20 pm

OP where were you before this job: big law? lit or transactional?

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby cookiejar1 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:32 pm

Thanks for answering these questions, OP!

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby toothbrush » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:54 pm

Could you elaborate on these two points? What does management entail from a legal standpoint?

Also, what personality/strengths match well for in-house, generally, do you think?
Anonymous User wrote:The higher you go, the less legal work you do, and the more management you do.
---
4) Not at all, but my personality and strengths are well-matched for in-house. .

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What would you say the least stressful practice groups are? Most stressful? What about hours worked -- are they all around the same or varies by group?


This depends a bit on the corporation and how they organize their practice groups and it depends what you define as stress--people are stressed by different things. The hours do vary by group, but across the board are lower than the equivalent or similar practice at a firm. I think in general for large corporations, the group responsible for transactions, particularly acquisition-type transactions, probably has the worst hours and the most stress. I think deals are just stressful no matter who you are in the deal--the client, the outside counsel, the inside counsel, the bank, etc., and that it isn't specific to being a lawyer on a deal. The lawyers in whatever group at that corporation that may be considered a product-facing or product-supporting group tend to have better hours, though whether they come in first will, again, vary, depending on what other groups may exist at the corporation.


Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:OP where were you before this job: big law? lit or transactional?

Won't answer this, sorry.

toothbrush wrote:Could you elaborate on these two points? What does management entail from a legal standpoint?

Also, what personality/strengths match well for in-house, generally, do you think?

Multi-tasking and strategic time management of your work. You have to do this when at a firm, certainly, but not on the same sort of time-scale. There are an (absurd) amount of meetings that in-house lawyers need to attend, and it's probably the most jarring difference. Demands don't stop, though, just because you're in a meeting, so being able to figure out how to take care of things for other people while still paying attention (and trying to be polite) in a meeting is something you need to learn quickly. Also, while you hear a lot about things like getting something put on your desk at 5-6pm, due in the morning for outside counsel, for in-house counsel we tend to have put on our desk at 11am, due at 5pm, but you're in meetings from 9am-5pm. I prefer our stress and our dilemma, certainly, but it's a different type of stress.

If you're someone who really needs to focus fully or have long chunks of time in order to do things, then most, but not all, in-house practice groups might not match quite as well. Speed, or, perhaps, efficiency (you can't be sloppy just because you're short on time) is more highly valued, and I'm fairly efficient.

In terms of personality, I was always the type of person who multi-tasked constantly anyway. To try to place it in a context any law students reading may be able to think about, when I was a student, I could study or work on a paper with tons of people around(hanging out or watching football, not like a cafe), including people interrupting me fairly regularly, no problem. It just doesn't take a lot of time for me to focus back in once interrupted. I usually purposely broke up my studying by switching from one subject to another every 30 minutes anyway because I tended to get sort of bored doing just one thing continuously. So this daily life of not being able to have full focus when doing things or having to switch focus constantly doesn't bother me and I kind of love it.

I guess I'm not sure that management from a 'legal' standpoint is all that different than management from any other standpoint. Could you elaborate on this question? As with any organization, when you rise to high levels, you spend more time delegating and overseeing the people you've delegated work to, and spend more time on higher-level forest-level rather than tree-level decisions.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:58 am

How did you differentiate between in-house positions that you deemed to be desirable and undesirable positions? In other words, what types of attributes of positions stood out to you as important indicators of a good gig? I imagine a lot of this was sussed out in the interview process. If so, were there any questions that you found helpful in sussing this out?

What advice would you give to a discouraged mid-level associate who has been searching for 5 months for an in-house positions with a few good bites but nothing landing yet? Any good websites/resources that I should use? I've been using LinkedIn, indeed, goinhouse.com and a couple of headhunters in my local area. I've found headhunters are not really helpful, because they so rarely have many in-house positions that they are placing.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How did you differentiate between in-house positions that you deemed to be desirable and undesirable positions? In other words, what types of attributes of positions stood out to you as important indicators of a good gig? I imagine a lot of this was sussed out in the interview process. If so, were there any questions that you found helpful in sussing this out?

What advice would you give to a discouraged mid-level associate who has been searching for 5 months for an in-house positions with a few good bites but nothing landing yet? Any good websites/resources that I should use? I've been using LinkedIn, indeed, goinhouse.com and a couple of headhunters in my local area. I've found headhunters are not really helpful, because they so rarely have many in-house positions that they are placing.


I'm going to have to decline to answer the first paragraph worth of questions; I can't figure out a way to answer it without saying too much that isn't just empty words. One thing I did do, though, was reach out and talk to alum from my law school who worked there about their jobs and how they liked the experience. I found that to be fairly helpful.

Keep going, seriously. Like I said upstream, opportunities that match your skill set for in-house can be sort of random. If you're experienced in, say, IP transactions, but the IP transactions group is full and they're looking for someone with experience in China, it's just not going to work. But you never know if that IP transactions job opens up the next day. If an opportunity for a secondment comes up at your firm, obviously go for it.

When you say you have a few good bites--are you making it to the interview stage? Try to reach out to contacts in-house (tap your law school's alumni network) and ask them about their jobs. Really listen--and incorporate things you learn from that into your interview. I'm not involved in hiring at my company, but the impression I've gotten is that they're really trying to make sure you understand what in-house is, what's the difference, etc. In-house lawyers have a different mindset than law firm lawyers, and they are trying to see if you're going to be able to make that switch. The more people who you talk to who work in these jobs, the better you'll be able to clear the interview hoops. Plus, they may know of open positions somewhere.

When I was a student, I cold e-mailed alums for info interviews just for my own research as I was trying to figure out my desired career path. Half of them ignored me, but once in a while I stumbled across somebody really nice. I still have standing offers from a few to submit my resume for me at their company if I'm ever interested. I send a brief e-mail near the New Year every year thanking them for their help, and updating them on where I am. I also keep in touch with old managers from internships, etc.

It seems trite, but it works. Good luck.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How did you differentiate between in-house positions that you deemed to be desirable and undesirable positions? In other words, what types of attributes of positions stood out to you as important indicators of a good gig? I imagine a lot of this was sussed out in the interview process. If so, were there any questions that you found helpful in sussing this out?

What advice would you give to a discouraged mid-level associate who has been searching for 5 months for an in-house positions with a few good bites but nothing landing yet? Any good websites/resources that I should use? I've been using LinkedIn, indeed, goinhouse.com and a couple of headhunters in my local area. I've found headhunters are not really helpful, because they so rarely have many in-house positions that they are placing.


I'm going to have to decline to answer the first paragraph worth of questions; I can't figure out a way to answer it without saying too much that isn't just empty words. One thing I did do, though, was reach out and talk to alum from my law school who worked there about their jobs and how they liked the experience. I found that to be fairly helpful.

Keep going, seriously. Like I said upstream, opportunities that match your skill set for in-house can be sort of random. If you're experienced in, say, IP transactions, but the IP transactions group is full and they're looking for someone with experience in China, it's just not going to work. But you never know if that IP transactions job opens up the next day. If an opportunity for a secondment comes up at your firm, obviously go for it.

When you say you have a few good bites--are you making it to the interview stage? Try to reach out to contacts in-house (tap your law school's alumni network) and ask them about their jobs. Really listen--and incorporate things you learn from that into your interview. I'm not involved in hiring at my company, but the impression I've gotten is that they're really trying to make sure you understand what in-house is, what's the difference, etc. In-house lawyers have a different mindset than law firm lawyers, and they are trying to see if you're going to be able to make that switch. The more people who you talk to who work in these jobs, the better you'll be able to clear the interview hoops. Plus, they may know of open positions somewhere.

When I was a student, I cold e-mailed alums for info interviews just for my own research as I was trying to figure out my desired career path. Half of them ignored me, but once in a while I stumbled across somebody really nice. I still have standing offers from a few to submit my resume for me at their company if I'm ever interested. I send a brief e-mail near the New Year every year thanking them for their help, and updating them on where I am. I also keep in touch with old managers from internships, etc.

It seems trite, but it works. Good luck.

Thanks for the advice. I have had several interviews, but no offers. I have been pretty selective in applying to positions. Often, I apply to jobs that require more years of experience than I have and the openings seem to go to people with more years of experience. Right now, it seems that most positions are 1-3 years of experience or 6-10. Unfortunately, I am in between and would rather reach for more responsibility than settle for something below my skillset. I appreciate the encouraging words and will continue to keep plug away on my applications and hope a good fit comes along.

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Re: In-House Counsel Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the advice. I have had several interviews, but no offers. I have been pretty selective in applying to positions. Often, I apply to jobs that require more years of experience than I have and the openings seem to go to people with more years of experience. Right now, it seems that most positions are 1-3 years of experience or 6-10. Unfortunately, I am in between and would rather reach for more responsibility than settle for something below my skillset. I appreciate the encouraging words and will continue to keep plug away on my applications and hope a good fit comes along.


If you're reaching for jobs where you don't have the requisite number of years of experience, then I wouldn't be disheartened. That's probably to be expected. There's fairly minimal training or oversight in-house, so I understand why they wouldn't want to take a gamble on someone less experienced. Best of luck!




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