5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

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Danger Zone
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Danger Zone » Thu Oct 29, 2015 11:24 am

rickgrimes69 wrote:Can OP (or anyone else) speak to the in-house opportunities for a capital markets lawyer?

Or general corporate

Or M&A?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 8:39 pm

deepseapartners wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Bumping in case anyone has any questions related to in house life and to report in.

The switch has been even better than I imagined. The predictable schedule has been truly freeing and a huge stress reliever. It's nice not to track time, but that never really bugged me as much as the unpredictability of big law hours. I also really enjoy the subject matter. The work is sophisticated and it's fun to make decisions rather than teeing up the important issues for clients to decide (like I did at a law firm). Career prospects are also good. I hope to remain at the same company for many years, but I think I'm probably marketable by the time I hit the 1 year marker. The salary hit was a little tough and it still stresses me a little, but it's been manageable. I'm really glad I have a nice nest-egg of cash. I know it's not an efficient use of capital to have a bunch of cash in a savings account, but it's been a big relief for me. I'm really glad I opted for cash rather than paying down loans aggressively.

Feel free to AMA.


What's been the most difficult adjustment? Or has it been a universally great move?

OP here. Getting to know the players, who I need to go to for internal approvals on the business side and getting to know the product/service. The other people in the group are great in helping me get up to speed, but it takes a while. As the other in-house person said, the politics can be tough. People get pushed out, have internal beefs and will build cases against one another to try to get rid of people. You need to play the game without getting burned. Steer clear of saying anything bad about anyone else - it's hard to know who talks to who and usually nothing good can come of saying bad things about others. With all of that said, it has been a universally great move. Zero regrets. I do miss some of folks I left behind at my firm. I was lucky to have great mentors. I don't miss any clients, though :)

I agreed with everyone the other in-house person said except the salary. Their firm might have been different, but my firm had better healthcare and contributed to my 401(k). There is an equity component to my new job and the bonus is much bigger, but equity vests over 3-5 years so it's not that great. I miss the nice steady salary. As you climb the ladder, the salary begins to catchup. I expect to hit close to $200K within the next 4 years in total comp, but that's still pretty comparable to what I was making at my firm before I left.
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 8:52 pm

aliens wrote:I'm a third year associate and I just got contacted by a recruiter trying to fill an in-house position. While I have been looking to switch jobs, I wasn't specifically seeking this position, so the contact from the recruiter came as a surprise. I talked to her and the position seems like a great opportunity for me. The same day she was able to get me an interview with the GC. What I'm asking is, since I wasn't really preparing for this, what should I do prior to the interview (and during) to make this happen? What types of questions do candidates typically ask at in-house interviews? I know the typical questions for firms, but I'm at a loss for in-house. (While I did have one in-house interview before, I felt very out of place and didn't get the position, so I obviously need to polish up for this interview.)

OP here. Have a good answer as to why you want to leave firm life generally. Try to stay generally positive and don't say "I want to work less", although it's okay to say you partially want a more predictable schedule. In particular, you should be able to articulate why you want to transition to doing the type of work that the person who fills this role will do.

Have a good answer as to why you want the company. It can be because you heard good stuff about the culture, you have a particular interest in the product/service/industry, the reputation of the company, the growth of the company, you like the stage of the company (think carefully about whether you want to be part of a large legal department or a small legal department - they are very different), or you are particularly draw to the specific roles for this position. Ideally, your answer will touch on several of these. If it's a geographic change, be ready to discuss.

Have lots of questions - whats the size of the department? whats the day to day? what do your interviewers like about the company? what drew them to the company? Ask specific questions about the type of work. Ask about the breakdown of your time that will be devoted to the responsibilities listed in the posting.

Read about the company. Google them. If they are public, read their 10-K/10-Q to understand their business. Read about what the company has been doing lately. Have they done any recent acquisitions? Big litigation? Just went public? Raised an equity round? Rolled out a new product/service? Read their website. You don't need to know the company inside and out, but you should have a basic understanding of the service/product of the company, the stage of the company and if they were in the news recently.

Be ready to articulate what you do now, the level of responsibility, and generally discuss your resume. If you list that you handle commercial agreements, be ready to discuss what kinds of commercial agreements, sticking points in negotiations and what role you play (e.g., do you negotiate? handle the initial draft and then company counsel negotiates?). Do you run M&A deals? Are you staffed under another associate? Of course, pitch yourself in a favorable light, but be truthful.

More importantly than selling them, this is your chance to ask questions that will allow you to evaluate whether this is a good match for you. Think carefully about what type of position you want and the type of company with which you want to work. Do you want to be a generalist within a practice group? Specialist? Have many colleagues? Be the only lawyer? Do you want to believe in the product/service and feel good about the mission of the company? You need to do some internal searching. Don't rush accepting a position unless you have a good idea of what you want. No job will be perfect, but you want the new job to meet most of the important criteria for you.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions and best of luck.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 8:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What do your advancement prospects look like? Hopping around from company to company until you have a shot at GC 20 years down the road?

Are advancement prospects meaningfully different between someone like you (5 yrs biglaw, 1 yr inhouse) and someone who left biglaw early (2 yrs biglaw, 4 yrs inhouse)?

OP here. I think it generally is a good idea to stay at a firm for at least 3-5 years - it really depends upon your practice group and the experience you get. For example, if you are a corporate lawyer (think M&A, VC, PE and general corporate), you should be able to run a M&A deal before you go in-house, in my opinion. There is no hard and fast rule though. Some in-house positions will develop you, but I think many expect you to be able to hit the ground running and aren't great at training folks. You will learn a lot in-house, but you want a good base for drafting/negotiating if you are transactional. I imagine the same concept applies to other practice areas.

My advancement prospects look very good in my opinion. I expect a promotion in the next year or two, and I'd say that I have a 50/50 shot of another promotion within 3 years after that if I stay with the company. I hope that I will be able to stay with the company - I love it. No clue if I ever want to be a GC. I'll reevaluate in 3-5 years. As of now, I'm okay being a VP of a group within a larger legal department down the road rather than a GC if its a good fit.

I knew coming into this position that the career path would be good. Be sure to ask about career paths when you are interviewing if upwards mobility is important to you. You can't expect to be promoted right away, but you should understand the typical career path at the company and what the company does to develop its lawyers.
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:04 pm

NoBladesNoBows wrote:Thanks to everyone answering questions! It's very helpful for planning ahead. I have a few questions:


1. What were you doing before going in-house/what were most of your coworkers doing? I assume almost everyone comes from biglaw, but of those that do is pretty much everyone from a transactional practice? Any litigators? Other? If there are people that didn't come from biglaw where did they come from?

2. What are the long-term advancement opportunities in-house? I realize that something like GC is even more unicorn than making partner, but assuming solid job performance where can you expect to be after 10-15 years? Assistant to GC? What kind of work/salary would you be looking at?

3. In regard to the politics mentioned above, would you elaborate a bit on that? I know what "office politics" means in general (several years work experience at F500) but what are some specific examples that you've seen? Is it different in legal?


Thanks again, your perspective is much appreciated!

OP here.

1. Corporate - it was a mix of M&A, venture capital, private equity, securities compliance and general corporate.

2. See my response above. After 10-15 years, you should be able to get an AGC role at most companies. It really depends though. Some companies use the title AGC for someone with 5 years of experience. Others have 30+ years of experience, so don't pay a too much attention to titles because they really vary company to company. I opine on salary above too.

3. I've seen VPs and SVPs plot to get rid of each other, underlings that were pushed out because they didn't get along with their boss, etc. It's nothing mind-blowing, it's just more apparent at a company. At a law firm, everyone is busy and generally silo'd they don't step on each other's toes as much. More importantly, at a firm, if you are billing a lot or bringing in a lot of business, no one gives a fuck about much else.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
NoBladesNoBows wrote:Thanks to everyone answering questions! It's very helpful for planning ahead. I have a few questions:


1. What were you doing before going in-house/what were most of your coworkers doing? I assume almost everyone comes from biglaw, but of those that do is pretty much everyone from a transactional practice? Any litigators? Other? If there are people that didn't come from biglaw where did they come from?

2. What are the long-term advancement opportunities in-house? I realize that something like GC is even more unicorn than making partner, but assuming solid job performance where can you expect to be after 10-15 years? Assistant to GC? What kind of work/salary would you be looking at?

3. In regard to the politics mentioned above, would you elaborate a bit on that? I know what "office politics" means in general (several years work experience at F500) but what are some specific examples that you've seen? Is it different in legal?


Thanks again, your perspective is much appreciated!


Not OP- other in-house poster above who mentioned politics.

1. Biglaw in whatever position they were hired for. There are more slots for deal people, but there are a few litigators- guessing something like a 4:1 ratio (lumping various niche practices like ERISA in with the deal people).

2. You can climb the ladder. My company has grades that go Attorney -> Senior Attorney ->Counsel -> Senior Counsel -> AGC ->GC (though there are some anomalous "other" titles in there too). Excluding bonuses and stock grants, Attorney is in the mid 100s, Senior Counsel is mid 200s, GC is in the millions all in (though executive comp gets extremely complex). I don't have as good idea what AGC's make because they are above the regular pay scale but not so high their pay is disclosed on the proxy.

3. As in house counsel, you have internal clients. They are not all created equal and there are different sensitivities when working with them. While it may seem obvious that Bob from accounting is not to be given the same priority as the VP of Operations, sometimes things aren't so clear. You may have to know that the accounting department is in the middle of a dispute with operations over who handles X, and that if you give advice Y it's going to step on accounting's toes and Bob from accounting is golf buddies with the CFO and will raise holy hell if you tell him he has to accommodate you.

OP here. Agreed on all accounts. Well said.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am going to be doing banking and finance next year at a v100. I was recently going through goinhouse and I noticed a lot of the companies wanted associates with M&A experience. Is that typically a strict requirement or can banking and finance associates apply to these positions?

OP here. You can apply, but you will really need to sell yourself (explain how the work you are doing in banking/finance is transferrable) and you will need a little luck (that no M&A associates that are stellar apply). If you want to go in-house, I'd strongly encourage you to go into M&A/VC/corporate transactional practice. You can go in-house in banking/finance but you will probably need to be working in finance so your options are more limited. Drafting in finance is VERY different than M&A/corporate/commercial agreements.
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:12 pm

gp86 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Bumping in case anyone has any questions related to in house life and to report in.

The switch has been even better than I imagined. The predictable schedule has been truly freeing and a huge stress reliever. It's nice not to track time, but that never really bugged me as much as the unpredictability of big law hours. I also really enjoy the subject matter. The work is sophisticated and it's fun to make decisions rather than teeing up the important issues for clients to decide (like I did at a law firm). Career prospects are also good. I hope to remain at the same company for many years, but I think I'm probably marketable by the time I hit the 1 year marker. The salary hit was a little tough and it still stresses me a little, but it's been manageable. I'm really glad I have a nice nest-egg of cash. I know it's not an efficient use of capital to have a bunch of cash in a savings account, but it's been a big relief for me. I'm really glad I opted for cash rather than paying down loans aggressively.

Feel free to AMA.


Do you have any discomfort going from being a revenue generator to a cost center? I think that's one of my main sources of trepidation about going in house - you're not necessarily moving into better job security.

OP here. Depends on the company, but I am not uncomfortable at all. The company is growing and we are hiring more lawyers. There is a real need for more lawyers in-house at my company and our revenue is steadily growing. It's more cost effective to keep work in-house rather than outsource to firms. I have much more job security now in my mind, even though I was deemed to be a very high performer with solid career prospects at my firm. If the company goes under completely, I'm in trouble, but I think that's unlikely given our business model, and my skills are highly transferrable to other in-house jobs. My responsibilities are broad, so I can do a lot, plus I have a solid foundation across M&A, VC and general corporate from my law firm days.
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:14 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:There are a handful of in-house positions now being offered to students straight out of school... do you think that your firm experience is invaluable in regards to your in-house work, or is in-house something you would have felt comfortable doing straight out of school?

OP here. It depends on your practice. For deal work, like M&A/VC, you are unlikely to get the same amount of deal flow at a company versus a firm. With that said, this is a single example and there are exceptions. Ultimately, the most important part for you is whether you are being broadly developed as a lawyer. Think about the type of work you are handling, whether smart/experienced people are investing time into teaching you and whether you have a path to be given responsibility down the road as you develop.
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:21 pm

rickgrimes69 wrote:Can OP (or anyone else) speak to the in-house opportunities for a capital markets lawyer?

OP here. Deal work (assuming this includes VC work) is generally transferrable, though M&A is more sought after for most in-house positions. Securities compliance can also be attractive for in-house employers. All public companies should have an in-house lawyer that helps supervise the public filings. In addition, pre-IPO companies are smart to hire securities lawyers to help bring them public. It also depends on what type of work you want to do after you leave firm life. Like most practice areas, there are options, but you need to ask yourself if you are happy with those options. If you feel like it's tough to really know for certain what you want to do, don't worry - this is something experienced by almost everyone. Do your best to position yourself well, think through what you want to do long term and hope for a little luck. What you want to do will probably continue to evolve - just be mindful to think it through on a regular basis to re-evaluate and confirm you are on the right path. Also, remember that nothing is impossible. I've interviewed several in-house candidates that were former litigators that made the switch to corporate while at a firm, and one after a firm. Not easy, but people do it.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:26 pm

Danger Zone wrote:
rickgrimes69 wrote:Can OP (or anyone else) speak to the in-house opportunities for a capital markets lawyer?

Or general corporate

Or M&A?

OP here. If by general corporate you mean governance issues, this is not as helpful as M&A experience. If you mean commercial agreements, it is helpful.

In general, as I've said in other posts, M&A/commercial agreement experience is most sought after for most in-house positions, at least from what I've seen, read, and heard from everyone I know.

Usually, joining a corporate practice group means handling M&A, VC, maybe private equity, maybe some securities compliance, probably governance and other basic drafting companies may need (e.g., formation, option issuances, debt/equity financing, etc.)

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Danger Zone wrote:
rickgrimes69 wrote:Can OP (or anyone else) speak to the in-house opportunities for a capital markets lawyer?

Or general corporate

Or M&A?

OP here. If by general corporate you mean governance issues, this is not as helpful as M&A experience. If you mean commercial agreements, it is helpful.

In general, as I've said in other posts, M&A/commercial agreement experience is most sought after for most in-house positions, at least from what I've seen, read, and heard from everyone I know.

Usually, joining a corporate practice group means handling M&A, VC, maybe private equity, maybe some securities compliance, probably governance and other basic drafting companies may need (e.g., formation, option issuances, debt/equity financing, etc.)


OP - thank you very much for taking the time to shed wisdom. Throughout your responses, you consistently tout the benefits of an M&A background. My question is why, exactly. Do you think that something about M&A experience is generally sought-after by in-house departments - is the experience more broad, is it more heavily focused on drafting? In the end: what makes M&A experience valuable? Depending on your answer to that question, my follow-up is this: currently, the market is saturated with a crazy amount of M&A work - do you think the value of M&A experience is tied to the current glut in M&A activity, and do you foresee demand for M&A experience decreasing when the inevitable ebb in M&A activity comes around?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Abbie Doobie » Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:48 am

thanks for doing this OP and the other in-house attorneys.

does your legal department have preferences for which firms they hire from? i'm talking about more than just "amlaw100" or "biglaw firms". you obviously don't have to mention which ones. but it seems that some companies have "go-to" firms they hire from and i'm wondering if this is a function of 1) firms x, y, and z are where the in-house attorneys came and therefore that's where they hire from, 2) the attorneys at firms x, y, and z tend to be what the legal department is looking for, or 3) the legal department has a policy of hiring from firms x, y, and z.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby aliens » Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
aliens wrote:I'm a third year associate and I just got contacted by a recruiter trying to fill an in-house position. While I have been looking to switch jobs, I wasn't specifically seeking this position, so the contact from the recruiter came as a surprise. I talked to her and the position seems like a great opportunity for me. The same day she was able to get me an interview with the GC. What I'm asking is, since I wasn't really preparing for this, what should I do prior to the interview (and during) to make this happen? What types of questions do candidates typically ask at in-house interviews? I know the typical questions for firms, but I'm at a loss for in-house. (While I did have one in-house interview before, I felt very out of place and didn't get the position, so I obviously need to polish up for this interview.)

OP here. Have a good answer as to why you want to leave firm life generally. Try to stay generally positive and don't say "I want to work less", although it's okay to say you partially want a more predictable schedule. In particular, you should be able to articulate why you want to transition to doing the type of work that the person who fills this role will do.

Have a good answer as to why you want the company. It can be because you heard good stuff about the culture, you have a particular interest in the product/service/industry, the reputation of the company, the growth of the company, you like the stage of the company (think carefully about whether you want to be part of a large legal department or a small legal department - they are very different), or you are particularly draw to the specific roles for this position. Ideally, your answer will touch on several of these. If it's a geographic change, be ready to discuss.

Have lots of questions - whats the size of the department? whats the day to day? what do your interviewers like about the company? what drew them to the company? Ask specific questions about the type of work. Ask about the breakdown of your time that will be devoted to the responsibilities listed in the posting.

Read about the company. Google them. If they are public, read their 10-K/10-Q to understand their business. Read about what the company has been doing lately. Have they done any recent acquisitions? Big litigation? Just went public? Raised an equity round? Rolled out a new product/service? Read their website. You don't need to know the company inside and out, but you should have a basic understanding of the service/product of the company, the stage of the company and if they were in the news recently.

Be ready to articulate what you do now, the level of responsibility, and generally discuss your resume. If you list that you handle commercial agreements, be ready to discuss what kinds of commercial agreements, sticking points in negotiations and what role you play (e.g., do you negotiate? handle the initial draft and then company counsel negotiates?). Do you run M&A deals? Are you staffed under another associate? Of course, pitch yourself in a favorable light, but be truthful.

More importantly than selling them, this is your chance to ask questions that will allow you to evaluate whether this is a good match for you. Think carefully about what type of position you want and the type of company with which you want to work. Do you want to be a generalist within a practice group? Specialist? Have many colleagues? Be the only lawyer? Do you want to believe in the product/service and feel good about the mission of the company? You need to do some internal searching. Don't rush accepting a position unless you have a good idea of what you want. No job will be perfect, but you want the new job to meet most of the important criteria for you.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions and best of luck.


Thanks, OP! That was extremely helpful. I am going to spend most of the weekend preparing for the interview on Monday. So far I have spent a lot of time reading on the website- the company has case studies on it that are extremely helpful to understand how the company does and what legal considerations arise in this business. The recruiter has also given me information about the size of the department. It's 20 people total, 9 attorneys. Would you consider that a large or small department? My last in-house interview was a legal department with 5 people total, 3 attorneys. Obviously that is small, but where does 20 fit in the scale? I don't want to look like silly by saying I want to work in a large legal department if this is considered small. The recruiter told me I should ask how much legal work is done in-house versus by an outside firm. I always thought that was a no no question- what is your view on that question?

Thanks again for all your advice on this thread! It is much appreciated by me and many more. Attorneys need to stick together more and help each other out, just like you're doing! Thanks!

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
totesTheGoat wrote:There are a handful of in-house positions now being offered to students straight out of school... do you think that your firm experience is invaluable in regards to your in-house work, or is in-house something you would have felt comfortable doing straight out of school?


Curious about this as well. I recently accepted an in-house position. They specifically wanted someone straight out of school. All of the other attorneys, except one, have at least 5 years of big law experience and raved about how much better their lives are now. I realize that by accepting this position my future opportunities with firms are pretty limited. But, the environment, benefits and work/life balance seem incredible.

I graduated in 2014 and went straight in-house, in a similar situation where everyone else has 5+ years biglaw experience. They all seem to agree that their biglaw experience was invaluable, but partly that it was invaluable to get them here...where I already am. It's also not impossible (though it is of course difficult) to go in-house > biglaw. I have received been approached by two firms we work with as to whether I would consider making the switch.


I also went in-house straight out of law school. I work in an extremely niche market, which is probably part of the reason I was able to make the transition straight from school. Although the company interviewed several attorneys with well over 10 years of experience before taking a risk on me and offering me the job. The learning curve has been extremely high, but is becoming more manageable.

It has been a tremendous opportunity for me and I really love the work that I do. I love working in house. Sometimes I do wish that I was doing criminal trials though, like public defender work, but overall I can't complain.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Danger Zone wrote:
rickgrimes69 wrote:Can OP (or anyone else) speak to the in-house opportunities for a capital markets lawyer?

Or general corporate

Or M&A?

OP here. If by general corporate you mean governance issues, this is not as helpful as M&A experience. If you mean commercial agreements, it is helpful.

In general, as I've said in other posts, M&A/commercial agreement experience is most sought after for most in-house positions, at least from what I've seen, read, and heard from everyone I know.

Usually, joining a corporate practice group means handling M&A, VC, maybe private equity, maybe some securities compliance, probably governance and other basic drafting companies may need (e.g., formation, option issuances, debt/equity financing, etc.)


OP - thank you very much for taking the time to shed wisdom. Throughout your responses, you consistently tout the benefits of an M&A background. My question is why, exactly. Do you think that something about M&A experience is generally sought-after by in-house departments - is the experience more broad, is it more heavily focused on drafting? In the end: what makes M&A experience valuable? Depending on your answer to that question, my follow-up is this: currently, the market is saturated with a crazy amount of M&A work - do you think the value of M&A experience is tied to the current glut in M&A activity, and do you foresee demand for M&A experience decreasing when the inevitable ebb in M&A activity comes around?

OP here. M&A exposes you to a lot of practices areas so you can spot issues, it provides you with solid drafting skills/experience and it teaches project management. M&A tends to be more complex than say VC work. Many in-house positions involve drafting commercial agreements, so the solid drafting skills from M&A are readily applicable. Drafting style and the concepts that arise are also similar.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:35 pm

Abbie Doobie wrote:thanks for doing this OP and the other in-house attorneys.

does your legal department have preferences for which firms they hire from? i'm talking about more than just "amlaw100" or "biglaw firms". you obviously don't have to mention which ones. but it seems that some companies have "go-to" firms they hire from and i'm wondering if this is a function of 1) firms x, y, and z are where the in-house attorneys came and therefore that's where they hire from, 2) the attorneys at firms x, y, and z tend to be what the legal department is looking for, or 3) the legal department has a policy of hiring from firms x, y, and z.

OP here. We don't care about your firm at all if you have a sophisticated practice, and solid skills. Some places might, though. My guess is that a lot of lawyers from the same firm in the same in-house legal department is more due to in-house employees recruiting former colleagues when positions open up. I've seen that happen in our legal department.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:46 pm

aliens wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
aliens wrote:I'm a third year associate and I just got contacted by a recruiter trying to fill an in-house position. While I have been looking to switch jobs, I wasn't specifically seeking this position, so the contact from the recruiter came as a surprise. I talked to her and the position seems like a great opportunity for me. The same day she was able to get me an interview with the GC. What I'm asking is, since I wasn't really preparing for this, what should I do prior to the interview (and during) to make this happen? What types of questions do candidates typically ask at in-house interviews? I know the typical questions for firms, but I'm at a loss for in-house. (While I did have one in-house interview before, I felt very out of place and didn't get the position, so I obviously need to polish up for this interview.)

OP here. Have a good answer as to why you want to leave firm life generally. Try to stay generally positive and don't say "I want to work less", although it's okay to say you partially want a more predictable schedule. In particular, you should be able to articulate why you want to transition to doing the type of work that the person who fills this role will do.

Have a good answer as to why you want the company. It can be because you heard good stuff about the culture, you have a particular interest in the product/service/industry, the reputation of the company, the growth of the company, you like the stage of the company (think carefully about whether you want to be part of a large legal department or a small legal department - they are very different), or you are particularly draw to the specific roles for this position. Ideally, your answer will touch on several of these. If it's a geographic change, be ready to discuss.

Have lots of questions - whats the size of the department? whats the day to day? what do your interviewers like about the company? what drew them to the company? Ask specific questions about the type of work. Ask about the breakdown of your time that will be devoted to the responsibilities listed in the posting.

Read about the company. Google them. If they are public, read their 10-K/10-Q to understand their business. Read about what the company has been doing lately. Have they done any recent acquisitions? Big litigation? Just went public? Raised an equity round? Rolled out a new product/service? Read their website. You don't need to know the company inside and out, but you should have a basic understanding of the service/product of the company, the stage of the company and if they were in the news recently.

Be ready to articulate what you do now, the level of responsibility, and generally discuss your resume. If you list that you handle commercial agreements, be ready to discuss what kinds of commercial agreements, sticking points in negotiations and what role you play (e.g., do you negotiate? handle the initial draft and then company counsel negotiates?). Do you run M&A deals? Are you staffed under another associate? Of course, pitch yourself in a favorable light, but be truthful.

More importantly than selling them, this is your chance to ask questions that will allow you to evaluate whether this is a good match for you. Think carefully about what type of position you want and the type of company with which you want to work. Do you want to be a generalist within a practice group? Specialist? Have many colleagues? Be the only lawyer? Do you want to believe in the product/service and feel good about the mission of the company? You need to do some internal searching. Don't rush accepting a position unless you have a good idea of what you want. No job will be perfect, but you want the new job to meet most of the important criteria for you.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions and best of luck.


Thanks, OP! That was extremely helpful. I am going to spend most of the weekend preparing for the interview on Monday. So far I have spent a lot of time reading on the website- the company has case studies on it that are extremely helpful to understand how the company does and what legal considerations arise in this business. The recruiter has also given me information about the size of the department. It's 20 people total, 9 attorneys. Would you consider that a large or small department? My last in-house interview was a legal department with 5 people total, 3 attorneys. Obviously that is small, but where does 20 fit in the scale? I don't want to look like silly by saying I want to work in a large legal department if this is considered small. The recruiter told me I should ask how much legal work is done in-house versus by an outside firm. I always thought that was a no no question- what is your view on that question?

Thanks again for all your advice on this thread! It is much appreciated by me and many more. Attorneys need to stick together more and help each other out, just like you're doing! Thanks!

OP here. I'd say a medium to smallish size department. It depends on the type of work you handle. I'd also be curious about the hierarchy (e.g., are all 9 attorneys specialists in different areas, are they all in the same practice area or something in between). I wouldn't talk about small vs large. If you genuinely want to be part of a legal group with that size, just tell them you like that the legal group is a manageable size where people know each other (you're not a lawyer number 103) but it's big enough where you have a number of colleagues with whom you can discuss issues.

On the in-source vs. out-source question, I think it's okay to generally ask how the department utilizes outside counsel, especially as it specifically relates to your role if you are going to be involved in areas that often involve outside counsel (e.g., M&A or litigation).

I am happy to answers questions. It is hard to find good info on this stuff. A lot of good people have helped me out throughout my career, including on this site. It is the least I can do to pay back their kindness.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:11 pm

OP here. I've got a little downtime today - bumping in case anyone has questions.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:29 pm

How does biglaw vs. midlaw prestige / name recognition play out for IH hiring? I'd imagine that skills and fit dominate once you land the interview, and those can be developed just as well (or better) at non-biglaw firms. That said, is having a big brand name on your resume important for actually landing the interview?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:34 pm

OP here. It really depends. Some industries/companies are prestige whores. It seemed like financial services cared more about pedigree than other industries. However, I think experience generally reigns supreme. If you don't have the experience and/or aren't a good cultural fit, you are not getting an offer. If I have 2 candidates that have similar experience and are both good cultural fits, the person from a more prestigious firm will probably get a slight bump.

When choosing a firm, I recommend choosing a firm that will give you top notch experience early in your career and the hours aren't too crushing (relatively) so you can last for at least a few years. My firm is well regarded in my market (which is a big city but not NYC), but my firm was a middle market firm. I recommend middle market firms over big name firms for experience on the corporate side, in general. More responsibility earlier on and less bullshit work....plus you aren't first year corporate associate #42. You are a person that the partners get to know on some level. Low partner to associate ratio is important - it means a better chance of mentorship.

-dasein-
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby -dasein- » Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:00 pm

OP, you must have been at your work for about 6-7 months now. How are you feeling about the job now that the "new environment energy" has likely worn off? What would you say you understand differently about your job that you did not when you first started?

Also, just out of curiosity, what are you doing with the free time you gained since you left biglaw?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:03 pm

-dasein- wrote:OP, you must have been at your work for about 6-7 months now. How are you feeling about the job now that the "new environment energy" has likely worn off? What would you say you understand differently about your job that you did not when you first started?

Also, just out of curiosity, what are you doing with the free time you gained since you left biglaw?

OP here. It is still awesome. It encompasses everything that I wanted for a job. The work is sophisticated (in many ways, more so than at a firm).

In terms of things that I better understand now....I don't think I fully appreciated that the work would still be complex/sophisticated and how much fun it would be to make more decisions rather than punting decisions to clients. I love having time to get to know my colleagues. I find our values are more aligned than my former colleagues at my firm (even though I really liked many of my former colleagues at my firm). I liked the folks at my firm, but I didn't have enough time to get to know many of them. It wasn't difficult to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate a smaller paycheck. I am much less stressed and I didn't realize how stressed I was at my firm. I love not having the constant pressure to try to market. I've learned a lot and become a much better lawyer in these past 6-7 months. I've learned more in this time than in my last year of work at my firm - no question. In case it was not apparent, I have no regrets at all. One of the best decisions I've made. I'll also say it was worth those difficult years at a firm to get to where I am.

Now that I have more free time, I've invested a lot of that time in my marriage and I sleep a lot more. I now get 7-8 hours of sleep every night and spend at least 1-2 hours visiting with my spouse each night. I've started pleasure reading a bit more and am slowly starting to workout more.

WillitBlend
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby WillitBlend » Sat Nov 28, 2015 6:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote: I now get 7-8 hours of sleep every night and spend at least 1-2 hours visiting with my spouse each night.


i am so god damn envious of this right here, ugh

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loomy78
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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby loomy78 » Sat Nov 28, 2015 6:52 pm

Would you go to law school if you had the choice again?




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