In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

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In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:56 pm

I am in-house at one of the largest public companies in the world. Life is good. I came in shortly after law school, and after a few years am at about the same level as someone who has been out of law school for 5-7 years. I honestly think in-house is one of the best gigs you can ever get in law if you find the right company (pay:work ratio, degree of flexibility, types of interesting stuff you get to work on, role). It can be really crappy if you find the wrong company though.

I don't want to out myself, so some questions I'll be intentionally vague on. However, I have experience with a variety of practice areas including intellectual property, antitrust, commercial law, and government relations. I currently am at the bottom of the totem pole on some functional teams, manage groups between 3 and 5 people on other teams, and sometimes help with hiring. I also get to manage junior level partners at firms occasionally, and am probably the guy responsible for friday night document drops for some of you junior associates.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:02 am

Salary?

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:Salary?


Roughly 200k/yr, plus nice benefits worth around 60k.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:16 am

School? I.e. T14, T20, T30? Etc

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:19 am

Very nice. What did you make starting out? I went in-house after 2 yrs biglaw and am making $180K. Would like to get to 200 eventually but not sure how to approach the subject of a raise.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:21 am

Also what kind of benefits are worth $60K? Are you including bonus in this amount?

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:School? I.e. T14, T20, T30? Etc


I went to a top-five school.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:Very nice. What did you make starting out? I went in-house after 2 yrs biglaw and am making $180K. Would like to get to 200 eventually but not sure how to approach the subject of a raise.


From now on, I am going to put "OP," in front of my posts.

OP: I made about 20% less. I think I get raises when my contract comes up, and when I need something from HR, and when my boss wants to give me one. Some of my peers make 300k. It is really about negotiating--I've seen people who've been here longer make less because they didn't negotiate. HR plays harball. They offered me 60% of my eventual salary.

My benefits include: free healthcare, huge corporate discount, a really nice dental plan w/ orthodontia, eye care with lasic, free food, 5-20% bonus, stock, adoption, tuition reimbursement, all bar/legal dues/CLE paid, 2-3 weeks paid vacation, free food at a bunch of restaurants, free legal/therapy/life insurance, huge discounts on travel private school and vacations, free gym.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby thebobs1987 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:47 am

Did you start in big law, how did you go about applying and finding the in-house position?

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:56 am

thebobs1987 wrote:Did you start in big law, how did you go about applying and finding the in-house position?


OP: No, I summered at two firms, but then I accepted an offer from one that had to rescind-offer its class due to the economy. I hustled an opportunity to work with this company my 3L year of law school on some stuff. They were looking for some help on a project and most of the 2 and 3Ls didn't seem interested (probably because they had jobs), so I took it on. I think my several years of prelaw work experience helped a bit. They liked me enough that they gave me a shot coming right out on a commercial team. They basically let me know that keeping me would be contingent upon me being as good as the rest of the new in-house people who had come over from big law after six years. They hadn't hired someone directly in years. I had no idea what I was doing at first, so I came in with a hustler mentality. I think this helped me a lot--many who've been in big law for a few years, especially against my peers who started pre-recession at firms in like 2007 and sometimes haven't had to hustle. They eventually hired me and promoted me to manage some projects. I did well on these so they promoted me again to my current role. I get to occasionally manage junior partners at our law firms in this role, which is weird because I've only been out of law school less than 3-4 years.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby AReasonableMan » Sat Feb 28, 2015 12:56 am

what kind of company is this? which kinds of issues do you work with? who do you normally get lunch with at work? who is your "boss"? were grades/school/vault rank important?

congrats on overcoming a really tough situation. takes a lot of guts.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:12 am

AReasonableMan wrote:what kind of company is this? which kinds of issues do you work with? who do you normally get lunch with at work? who is your "boss"? were grades/school/vault rank important?

congrats on overcoming a really tough situation. takes a lot of guts.


Thanks. I can't mention the industy without outing--look at the fortune 50 list for an idea. Right now I am working on antitrust issues, but previously was a commercial attorney and an IP attorney mostly. My lunches vary. Usually I just skip lunch so I can go home earlier. I get lunch with everyone from our secretaries and mail room guys to my VPs to our business guys to outside organizations/firms.

OP: My boss is a junior vice president, his boss is a vice president, his boss is our executive vice president/general counsel.

Nobody asked me about grades. My school helped because they were looking for assistance at my school, which got me the job.

Generally, I'd say that people who get jobs here work at one of our law firms, or lateral over from a Fortune 500 in our industry. We use various big and mid law firms for work. So, basically whoever would get a job at a relevant big or mid law firm, and then work with us, and get recommended for a job. I don't think school matters at this point. If you are a baller attorney from a midlaw firm and we've worked with you a lot, and went to Cooley Law School, no one would care. If you went to Yale and worked with us at the same firm, but we didn't like you, the Cooley guy would get the job over you 100% of the time.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby yot11 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:41 am

What's the IP scene like for in-house? Are you basically doing patent prosecution or is it more transactional patent work (presumably it's not litigation)? Or is it more soft IP work?

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby goden » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:16 am

OP do you mind PMing me

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Unagi
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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Unagi » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:38 am

Thanks for doing this!
As you mentioned, going in-house straight from law school is the exception.
From what you have seen at your company, approximately how many years one should work at a firm to get a shot at going in-house?

KM2016
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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby KM2016 » Sat Feb 28, 2015 4:07 am

What market is your office in? (You can be vague; i.e., Northeast, Texas, Southwest, etc.)

How many in-house attorneys does your office have, and the company as a whole have?

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby almondjoy » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:48 am

What do your hours look like?

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby nothingtosee » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:40 am

What percentage of the in-house lawyers have litigation v corporate (v IP) backgrounds?

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:11 pm

Unagi wrote:Thanks for doing this!
As you mentioned, going in-house straight from law school is the exception.
From what you have seen at your company, approximately how many years one should work at a firm to get a shot at going in-house?


OP: It varies a lot based upon companies. I'd say usually 2-4 years is minimum and rare. Five-six is probably average. Some people we take are 7-20 years at a firm.

Other companies are different. I know of a few that are actively taking people straight out of law school. Some companies have changed their model to compete with firms for talent and take students directly. Some take people from top schools directly, some take people from local schools directly. I'd say companies are generally more willing to make exceptions to hiring criteria than firms if they like you, or you fill a niche. I think this is because corporate HR is trained to be more flexible, strategic, and value conscious than law firm hr. They actively choose to take bachelors degree holding people over MBAs on the basis of experience or recommendation. So, when an attorney recommends you to HR, they don't blink an eye that you are straight out, but earning the same amount as a biglaw+5.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby notgreat » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:14 pm

goden wrote:OP do you mind PMing me

OP, if it isn't too much trouble will you please PM me as well? Thanks either way!

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:21 pm

nothingtosee wrote:What percentage of the in-house lawyers have litigation v corporate (v IP) backgrounds?


OP: Really good question. I don't know. I think it is probably dependent upon the company. Google will need more IP people than Coke. Litigators and Corporate probably equal. However, something you'll find is that once in (at least at my company), you may end up doing six different roles over your time at the company. It is the norm to switch from IP to commercial to antitrust to management of a team where you have no experience (like employment law or something). They expect you to be plug in play and if talent is clear, you might be trying a new area of the law every few years. I think this is because the majority of your inhouse role is being a strategist, that is your value. Law firms can churn legal work out for us more efficiently, people are needed who can apply legal knowledge to problem solve, anticipate risks, and build programs.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:29 pm

almondjoy wrote:What do your hours look like?


OP: My hours are generally 9:30-5:30 or so. No one forces me to work. Some come in from 8-4. Some work from home. I know a guy who works remotely from North Carolina. My boss doesn't care, as long as I own all of my stuff. If I have something important, I may be working 18 hour days like the biglaw people. This us super rare though. We had a team meeting the other day and someone raised their hand and said "could we start the next meeting earlier, I want to leave early on Friday." After that, some have been going home at 2-3 every Friday.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:36 pm

KM2016 wrote:What market is your office in? (You can be vague; i.e., Northeast, Texas, Southwest, etc.)

How many in-house attorneys does your office have, and the company as a whole have?


OP: I would give away of I named the market, Ive been in a Midwest and a West Coast office so far, but we have attorneys working in every market in the country, and also in 80+ countries. I have about 20 attorneys in my office. We employ about 700 attorneys.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:37 pm

BTW, I'll PM people once I've had a chance to make a new account.

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Re: In-house Counsel at Fortune 50 Taking Questions

Postby TTTooKewl » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:49 pm

Thanks for doing this OP. I have two questions, one about biglaw experience v. no biglaw experience; and the other about upward mobility.

From what I've gathered so far, you seem to be suggesting that anyone coming in the door at your company starts out at the same seniority, with the same pay -- regardless of whether they are new grads, have 2 years biglaw experience, or have 7 years biglaw experience. Is this the case, or have I misunderstood? If the case, do you know if this is typical of in-house jobs? I'm currently a 2L with a biglaw SA lined up, and expect to end up in-house after 3-6 years at the firm. From what it sounds like, if that's my ultimate goal, I should do my best to just skip biglaw and find an in-house position fresh out of law school. Do you have thoughts on this? Are there valuable skills that transfer from biglaw? Are there different in-house roles, some of which would benefit more from biglaw experience?

My question with respect to upward mobility is pretty straightforward. From what you've said, it sounds like upward salary movement is primarily a function of negotiation. It also sounds like there's a totem pole of VPs. What types of paths do in-house attorneys take throughout their career? What do you foresee for yourself? Is there a lot of room for upward mobility within your company? Do people often leave to accept a position of higher seniority at other companies? Do you have a feel for how much your salary could/would likely increase over the next 10-15 years?

Thank you.




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