How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

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How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:06 am

I'm trying to figure out if there is a transactional practice area that might be right for me. Pre law school, I have lit experience: antitrust, M&A, big Pharma, and Comm Lit stuff. Ultimately, I'd like to keep options open for lateraling to in-house work in general DC/Baltimore area - long-term becoming a generalist advice-giver/strategist in a corporate legal department. Is there a particular transactional group that lends itself well to going in-house or does it just vary too much to be meaningfully predictive? Are there significant enough in-house possibilities doing lit work?

Happy to give more info - but not sure what I need to add. I don't care about hours, travel, or even the type of work - I've generally been happy learning new things and can deal with early-on 'drudge' stuff like doc review or due diligence. My main concerns are A. being able to learn the ropes without having significant background in finance/tax/etc. and B. being able to keep in-house options down the road as open as possible. I'm coming up on my SA at a V10 firm and plan to try both corp and lit work. I apologize if this thread already exists or if the question is just too broad to be meaningfully answered - just trying to figure out how to plan my next steps and any advice would be much appreciated!

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:15 pm

The most important thing is to gain a reputation as someone who does really good work.

When you get to your firm, ask around to figure out which associates have left and where they went. Find someone to emulate and emulate them. Any advice you get on here is going to be too general to be as useful as simply mimicking someone who already did what you would like to do. Client-firm relationships are very specific to individual practices, clients and partners, and these are what drive moves to go in house.

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nealric
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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby nealric » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm trying to figure out if there is a transactional practice area that might be right for me. Pre law school, I have lit experience: antitrust, M&A, big Pharma, and Comm Lit stuff. Ultimately, I'd like to keep options open for lateraling to in-house work in general DC/Baltimore area - long-term becoming a generalist advice-giver/strategist in a corporate legal department. Is there a particular transactional group that lends itself well to going in-house or does it just vary too much to be meaningfully predictive? Are there significant enough in-house possibilities doing lit work?

Happy to give more info - but not sure what I need to add. I don't care about hours, travel, or even the type of work - I've generally been happy learning new things and can deal with early-on 'drudge' stuff like doc review or due diligence. My main concerns are A. being able to learn the ropes without having significant background in finance/tax/etc. and B. being able to keep in-house options down the road as open as possible. I'm coming up on my SA at a V10 firm and plan to try both corp and lit work. I apologize if this thread already exists or if the question is just too broad to be meaningfully answered - just trying to figure out how to plan my next steps and any advice would be much appreciated!


While there are in-house litigators, probably 80% of in-house lawyers practice some flavor of transactional or regulatory law. If in-house is your goal, I would focus on transactional work. A niche like Tax/ERISA/Environmental/SEC Regulatory, etc. can be very helpful for going in house.

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DELG
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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby DELG » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:20 pm

It's amazing how many more 0Ls/law students don't mind doing whatever entry level work than associates. Where do all these content work mules go?!

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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby legends159 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:21 pm

Put together a deal sheet - where you list the size of the transaction, the type, your role and key documents which you drafted/negotiated. Try to fill that deal sheet with all types of legal work - from transaction based deals to advisory to regulatory etc. This will help you decide what kind of work to ask for and what to turn down (i.e., you've already done 4 investment grade notes offerings and want to do a credit deal or an m&a deal etc.)

This will help you market yourself to in-house companies in a tangential way and can also help you break the stereotype of oh s/he is only a 2/3/4 year and therefore must have only done x,y,z.

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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:02 pm

Totally depends on your ideal market. Certain industries are bigger in certain areas of the country. Generally speaking, general corporate backgrounds are usually the best fit for in house jobs. That said, there are a ton of specialties in house gigs out there. Review job posts for in house jobs in your area. Many in house jobs seek solid drafting and negotiating skills - any mid level corporate associate has this skill set. IP transactional is a good group to go in house too, but there are not a ton of these openings at firms. If you are purely trying to maximize in house openings that you can apply to, M&A/VC/general corporate is best bet IMO.

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JoanSloan
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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby JoanSloan » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:36 pm

The easiest way to do it? Work for a single client for a long time. Get to know their business. Get to know their people. Produce good work.
When you're ready to leave, let them know. When they have an opening, pick up the phone.

Otherwise, it's hard to say. Every in-house department is different. Compliance and transactions are always valuable, but c/t work in a mutual fund is very different from c/t work in a tech startup. Employment is good everywhere.

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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:53 am

OP here: Thanks for the great advice, all. To make sure I'm getting this, what I'm hearing is:

- It's hard to generalize because in-house opportunities are not a uniform thing
- Transactional experience tends to be more useful in-house than lit
- Keep a deal sheet to keep track of my work/experience and to help plot my own career growth
- Build relationships - find someone to emulate and/or try to work with clients to which you might want to lateral
- Do good work, develop a specialty that in-house or a particular client might want to bring in-house

Are there particular transactional areas where a strong previous background education is necessary to do well? For instance, It seems like finance would be good to have for PE or Capital Markets. Or in ever practice area are there a fair number of incoming first years who don't know anything?

legends159
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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby legends159 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here: Thanks for the great advice, all. To make sure I'm getting this, what I'm hearing is:

- It's hard to generalize because in-house opportunities are not a uniform thing
- Transactional experience tends to be more useful in-house than lit
- Keep a deal sheet to keep track of my work/experience and to help plot my own career growth
- Build relationships - find someone to emulate and/or try to work with clients to which you might want to lateral
- Do good work, develop a specialty that in-house or a particular client might want to bring in-house

Are there particular transactional areas where a strong previous background education is necessary to do well? For instance, It seems like finance would be good to have for PE or Capital Markets. Or in ever practice area are there a fair number of incoming first years who don't know anything?


No background needed - you learn on the job. Some learn faster than others because they have some background in finance etc. but you can always catch up by seeking mentorship and doing your homework. Try to take an accounting class if you don't have any background in accounting. You can also read up on investopedia.com and watch their videos to get good background information on basic finance.

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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here: Thanks for the great advice, all. To make sure I'm getting this, what I'm hearing is:

- It's hard to generalize because in-house opportunities are not a uniform thing
- Transactional experience tends to be more useful in-house than lit
- Keep a deal sheet to keep track of my work/experience and to help plot my own career growth
- Build relationships - find someone to emulate and/or try to work with clients to which you might want to lateral
- Do good work, develop a specialty that in-house or a particular client might want to bring in-house

Are there particular transactional areas where a strong previous background education is necessary to do well? For instance, It seems like finance would be good to have for PE or Capital Markets. Or in ever practice area are there a fair number of incoming first years who don't know anything?


In-house counsel here (I'm also the one currently doing the "in-house counsel answering questions" thread, someone may have asked some of your questions there). Responding to each of these in turn:

- It's hard to generalize because in-house opportunities are not a uniform thing

True, but I'd say pretty uniformly that major companies like to hire from from those that either practice in the region near their home office, have experience at one of their partner law firms, or have experience in their industry. I think checking any of these three boxes really help.

- Transactional experience tends to be more useful in-house than lit

I disagree. I'd say that lit experience is also super useful depending upon your role. Sure, for a commercial attorney transnational experience is golden. But, there are so many roles that you don't really get tons of exposure to outside a company where lit helps (antitrust, litigation management, IP protection, antipiracy, compliance/FCPA, employment/immigration, policy work, privacy, regulatory affairs)

- Keep a deal sheet to keep track of my work/experience and to help plot my own career growth

This is always great advice. Make sure you can articulate specific experience. Additionally, keep track of the types of regulations you've had experience working with.

- Build relationships - find someone to emulate and/or try to work with clients to which you might want to lateral

Get to know people in-house. This is the best advice I can give. I think most of those that we take generally have connections to us. I mean, many do not, but it makes it that much easier when a cooworker says "I've been working with this great attorney, lets hire him."

- Do good work, develop a specialty that in-house or a particular client might want to bring in-house

Specialties may help. Especially if you want to be an expert in a complicated area (ERISA, SEPs). However, its not necessary.

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JoanSloan
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Re: How to plan early legal career to maximize in-house chances?

Postby JoanSloan » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:31 pm

Are there particular transactional areas where a strong previous background education is necessary to do well?


It depends on how specialized the company/organization is. Finance company? 80% of their work will be financing. Non-profit? Tax is crucial. Pharma? IP is non-negotiable. In those cases, you will have to hit the ground running, so a background will be invaluable.

I wouldn't stress out too much about gaining a legal specialty at this point. You'll naturally gravitate towards one area that you really like, and there will be a whole industry to support that interest (in most cases). Of course, it'll be a lot harder to find those employers if you're determined on only staying in one geographic area...

That being said, the majority of in-house positions involve compliance, document drafting, negotiation, and risk management. Unfortunately, you gain drafting and formal negotiation skills while practicing, so there's not much you can do about that while you're in law school. You can, however, take the following courses when you go back to school: administrative law, risk management, negotiation, arbitration, accounting, and a basic business course. You can take courses in high-demand areas like employment, IP, corporate finance, corporate law, contract drafting, and secure transactions.

The best part of in-house, however, is that the majority of large, corporate employers do require generalists. They want someone who can handle issues in any area that touches on their operations.




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