In-house at tech company, taking questions

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In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 2:17 am

2013 grad, now in-house at tech company (level of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook). Graduated from T30, bottom 1/3, no journal.

I was not a good law student, but found a speciality and stuck with it. I also got lucky along the way.

Happy to answer any questions!

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby DildaMan » Fri May 26, 2017 2:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:2013 grad, now in-house at tech company (level of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook). Graduated from T30, bottom 1/3, no journal.

I was not a good law student, but found a speciality and stuck with it. I also got lucky along the way.

Happy to answer any questions!


Hi,

1. What type of law did you practice prior to moving in-house?
2. Any advice for going in-house at a tech company?

Thanks!

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby gchatbrah » Fri May 26, 2017 2:34 am

Approximate salary? Structure of that salary?

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 2:40 am

OP here.

1. I don't want to say my practice area, because it is a very niche field. I worked at a large first before moving in-house. My current company has a massive legal department, and I am still practicing exclusively in the same field.

2. Gain experience at a firm for a few years and specialize in something. If you want to move in-house for a tech company, know that the interview process and culture is much different than a law firm. They want to know how you think, not just how well you know the law. In particular, how you can contribute to process improvements for the business.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 2:45 am

OP here.

Base salary is $140-150k range, I took a small paycut moving in-house. Annual bonus is 10-20% of base salary, plus stock. Good 401k contributions and healthplan.

Hours are typically 9-6/6:30pm. I don't work/check emails when I get home on weekdays and never on weekends.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 2:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here.

1. I don't want to say my practice area, because it is a very niche field. I worked at a large first before moving in-house. My current company has a massive legal department, and I am still practicing exclusively in the same field.

2. Gain experience at a firm for a few years and specialize in something. If you want to move in-house for a tech company, know that the interview process and culture is much different than a law firm. They want to know how you think, not just how well you know the law. In particular, how you can contribute to process improvements for the business.


Thanks OP!

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 3:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here.

Base salary is $140-150k range, I took a small paycut moving in-house. Annual bonus is 10-20% of base salary, plus stock. Good 401k contributions and healthplan.

Hours are typically 9-6/6:30pm. I don't work/check emails when I get home on weekdays and never on weekends.


What is "plus stock"? I've heard of offers ranging from 5k a year to 40k a year. It's a huge part of compensation.

I interviewed at a company you listed or at the level of the companies you listed. I was on the lower end of my stock numbers above and thought I was getting lowballed.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby sanzgo » Fri May 26, 2017 4:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:2013 grad, now in-house at tech company (level of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook). Graduated from T30, bottom 1/3, no journal.

I was not a good law student, but found a speciality and stuck with it. I also got lucky along the way.

Happy to answer any questions!


1. did you work in biglaw before transitioning?

2. are most tech in-house positions corporate? how hard would it be for a biglaw lit associate to work at tech in-house?

3. what's the advancement structure like (in terms of both pay and position)?

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby ballouttacontrol » Fri May 26, 2017 7:11 am

are you in patent law? if not patent law, do you know the patent attys? and if so, as far as you know, does their job materially differ (other than substantively, i.e., in terms of pay/QOL/etc) from yours?

how many years did you do in biglaw have?

do you wish you moved from your firm sooner than you did, or later?

How does your in house counsel job compare to those of your competitors (ie the other Co's you named and similarly situated Cos.)

Do you see this as a stepping stone or somewhere you'll sit for a good while?



BTW, thanks. I have worked extensively with one of the co's you listed. The thought of trying to make the jump has crossed my mind..

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 9:03 am

Initial offer included signing bonus of $15-20k, plus $15-20k in stock. Additional stock granted as part of annual review, but that can vary.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 9:16 am

1. I was not in big law, but worked at a large firm.
2. The legal department is so large that, unfortunately, I do not personally know anyone in lit. Most work seems to be transactional, and there are some policy roles.
3. Job itself is stable, but raises and promotions are a bit stagnant. Annual raise is less than 5%, and promotion to a higher internal level can be difficult.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 9:31 am

I am not a patent attorney, not sure about their comp structure.

My field is pretty unique, and most companies do not have attorney-level internal positions for my practice area (most companies use outside counsel). So, I do not have data points on comparable roles at different tech companies. Overall, I am happy with the compensation and work/life balance, and planning on staying put for at least a few years.

I am glad I worked at a law firm first, the experience gave me a higher appreciation for the current job. I was at a small firm for less than a year after graduation, then remainder of time was at a large firm (not technically biglaw).

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 9:42 am

Thanks for taking questions, OP! I graduated at the bottom third of my class as well and am a junior at a relatively reputable biglaw firm in the Bay Area. How much do you think grades matter for the quality of exit options? Also, outside of tech trans, what are the best practice areas for going in house at tech companies? Ideally I'd like to get to where you are. Thanks!

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2017 10:18 am

Do you have a big antitrust inhouse group? I'm going into DOJ Antitrust in the fall, and am hoping to go to one of my section's industries after a couple years, especially if congress reduces PSLF

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Alive97 » Fri May 26, 2017 11:52 am

.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby thecatgoesmeow » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:50 pm

OP, when did you move in house?

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:19 am

Bumping this thread as another In-house tech company lawyer. Similar to OP except prior practice area was in general corporate, not niche. Thought I'd help out any others who are looking to transition in-house someday, as that was my goal and I trawled these forums hoping for any advice that would get me there.

Background:

Practiced at boutique firm for 2.5 years and moved in-house early at a mid-sized company with a small legal department. Spent 2 years there before moving to a bigger company with a small legal department. Had lots of responsibility and rose up quickly. I would say the combo of high responsibility+range of experience I had at that company really helped strengthen my resume. A few years in, was contacted by recruiter at a large SV tech company (FAANG tier) for an equivalent in-house role. Made the switch last year.

Comp:
$215k base + $35k stock + 15% bonus. Annual stock refresher.

AMA.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:Bumping this thread as another In-house tech company lawyer. Similar to OP except prior practice area was in general corporate, not niche. Thought I'd help out any others who are looking to transition in-house someday, as that was my goal and I trawled these forums hoping for any advice that would get me there.

Background:

Law school T50, graduated 2011 near median - bottom 1/2 of class
Practiced at boutique firm for 2.5 years and moved in-house early at a mid-sized company with a small legal department. Spent 2 years there before moving to a bigger company with a small legal department. Had lots of responsibility and rose up quickly. I would say the combo of high responsibility+range of experience I had at that company really helped strengthen my resume. A few years in, was contacted by recruiter at a Apple/Amazon/Netflix/Google/Facebook tier company for an equivalent in-house role. Made the switch last year.

Comp:
$215k base + $35k stock + 15% bonus. Annual stock refresher.

AMA.
Thanks!

What area of law were you in while at the firm?
What did you do at your first in-house role and did you have to pivot at all? If so, how did you sell yourself?
How was comp in the first in-house role?

Appreciate the help!

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:Practiced at boutique firm for 2.5 years and moved in-house early at a mid-sized company with a small legal department. Spent 2 years there before moving to a bigger company with a small legal department. Had lots of responsibility and rose up quickly. I would say the combo of high responsibility+range of experience I had at that company really helped strengthen my resume. A few years in, was contacted by recruiter at a Apple/Amazon/Netflix/Google/Facebook tier company for an equivalent in-house role. Made the switch last year.


What sorts of projects/habits/behaviors did you have at your previous in-house jobs that put you in a good position to climb the in-house ladder like you did?

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby boredtodeath » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Bumping this thread as another In-house tech company lawyer. Similar to OP except prior practice area was in general corporate, not niche. Thought I'd help out any others who are looking to transition in-house someday, as that was my goal and I trawled these forums hoping for any advice that would get me there.

Background:

Law school T50, graduated 2011 near median - bottom 1/2 of class
Practiced at boutique firm for 2.5 years and moved in-house early at a mid-sized company with a small legal department. Spent 2 years there before moving to a bigger company with a small legal department. Had lots of responsibility and rose up quickly. I would say the combo of high responsibility+range of experience I had at that company really helped strengthen my resume. A few years in, was contacted by recruiter at a Apple/Amazon/Netflix/Google/Facebook tier company for an equivalent in-house role. Made the switch last year.

Comp:
$215k base + $35k stock + 15% bonus. Annual stock refresher.

AMA.


Was the first in-house move a client of the firm you worked at? If not, how did you go about finding that position?

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby lawkitten » Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks!

What area of law were you in while at the firm?
What did you do at your first in-house role and did you have to pivot at all? If so, how did you sell yourself?
How was comp in the first in-house role?

Appreciate the help!


I was in general corporate transactional work - some M&A, some commercial, and some civil litigation (contract disputes, employment law). I knew I eventually wanted to go in-house so I tried to get my hands on as much general corporate work as possible while at the firm. That being said, I was able to spin my lit experience as a plus when interviewing for in-house roles. If in lit, there are also pathways to go in-house - for example, patent lit or product counseling.

First in-house role was general commercial work. Having a transactional background helped, even if the types of contracts were different. I think putting as many buzzwords from the job posting onto my resume was what caught the recruiters eye initially, and then during interviews I emphasized experience in those areas - even if my experience wasn't a 100% match. Softskills helped the most during my face-to-face interviews. Luck helped too.

First in-house comp was about $105k base + 10% bonus. Not high, but I was done with firm life and wanted to get my foot in the door in-house. It helped me get to where I am today in about 4-5 years.

totesTheGoat wrote:What sorts of projects/habits/behaviors did you have at your previous in-house jobs that put you in a good position to climb the in-house ladder like you did?


Being in a small in-house legal department helped. Legal gets a lot of visibility at a corporation, particularly in mid to large sized companies with smaller legal departments, so you get to work with senior leadership quite often. Legal is generally a cost center so there tends to be fewer lawyers, except when you get to the large tech company size in SV. Having an executive team that values the legal department is monumentally helpful. If you work with business partners who view legal as an annoyance or obstacle, you won't be respected or valued as an advisor. The best things I did personally were to stay very responsive to my internal business clients and make sure they felt heard and supported. I volunteered for visible projects, biz dev/M&A opportunities, and less visible roles with people who had been at the company a long time. The relationships I fostered helped a great deal; my manager made sure to let me know whenever he heard positive feedback from my clients. I also made sure to help my manager out in process improvements as our company and department scaled up. All these things as a whole helped me get promoted faster, and the title change probably attracted the recruiters that reached out. Also, being in SV physically no doubt played a huge part. If I was in a different market I doubt the company I work for would have pinged me, except perhaps for a remote office location looking for my particular skill set.

boredtodeath wrote:Was the first in-house move a client of the firm you worked at? If not, how did you go about finding that position?


Nope. I subscribed to job alerts on Indeed around the time I knew I was ready to make a move out of the firm. Took some time fixing up my resume to tailor to the job description, cleaned it up and sent it out with a nice cover letter.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:00 pm

Also, being in SV physically no doubt played a huge part.


That's my fear. I work for one of those huge SV companies, but I have zero interest in moving to SV. I could probably get 3 promotions at this company before they started pressuring me to move to SV, but if I ever wanted to leave, it seems that most other tech companies are more SV-centric when it comes to legal.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby lawkitten » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:07 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:That's my fear. I work for one of those huge SV companies, but I have zero interest in moving to SV. I could probably get 3 promotions at this company before they started pressuring me to move to SV, but if I ever wanted to leave, it seems that most other tech companies are more SV-centric when it comes to legal.


Depending on where you are, you may not ever have to move. Lots of SV companies are expanding out to other locations as they grow (for example: Seattle, Austin, NY) and these offices are only going to get bigger over time, barring a huge recession or something. I read recently that startups are looking at other markets to start just because of the ridiculous cost of living in SF... so all this points to expansion of the tech sector that is beneficial to non-SV folks. Don't blame you for not wanting to live here, although the weather is pretty much unbeatable.

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:22 pm

Does holding a JD/MBA help for in house lateraling?

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Re: In-house at tech company, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:32 pm

Thanks for doing this.

Suppose straight from law school you go in-house as a corporate counsel at a non-public tech company in SF/PA, working on commercial contracts, etc. How hard would it be to lateral to big law? And how soon can this be done? Assume T14 grad with above avg. grades and valued internships (no biglaw summer). Thanks.



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