Small Legal Dept

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Small Legal Dept

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:02 am

I am mulling over an offer to go in house at a fairly large public company (~8,000 employees) in a secondary market. I'm currently a midlevel at a large firm facing burnout. Despite the size of the company, the US legal department is very small: 3 generalist lawyers and a handful of IP attorneys. I would be on the generalist side. If I joined, the legal department in the US would be 4 attorneys that report directly up the chain to one another: the GC, deputy GC, AGC, and me.

I've been told that the system is functionally flat. All of the attorneys get tasks from various business folks at all levels, and very little work is truly pushed down by the attorneys. My only concern with the structure would be that the prospects for advancement in title/compensation would be slow. My direct supervisor has been at the company for almost 10 years. His supervisor has been there for 15 years and was a partner at a large firm before coming over.

What would be the practical implications of this? For what it's worth, I really like all of the attorneys in the chain, along with the business folks I've met. The salary is above average in the market, and there may be some flexibility for additional benefits/compensation.


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Re: Small Legal Dept

Post by jjjetplane » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:05 pm

I am trying to understand the problem here. Seems like you'd be with a highly competent group of attorneys (one's a former biglaw partner) who have stayed at their jobs for long stretches (which bodes well for your well being). With respect to the "flatness" / non-hierarchical structure, are you concerned about further career advancement or lack thereof? if that is your main concern, where do you envision being professionally in the future? fwiw, the gig sounds great to me.


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Re: Small Legal Dept

Post by albanach » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:02 pm

I think your concern is real, but it should also be shared by the AGC and Deputy and so may have been addressed internally.

Did they both start with that job title? Do they anticipate making AGC a deputy at some point? Is there a reasonable prospect of you being AGC when you match the experience the existing AGC had on starting that role?

Obviously then you need to decide if you can trust any assurances that you get. It would be better if they didn't just come from legal but also came from HR.

If title changes aren't going to happen, do they have a salary structure that could reflect your increasing skills over time?

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Small Legal Dept

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:32 pm

OP here. Thanks for the replies! They're really helpful for framing my follow up with the company about this. I agree that they'll be the best resource on it.

As second poster noted, my concerns revolve around (a) potential inability to progress to AGC title in a reasonable time and (b) potential lack of salary increases/additional benefits over time. I think these could be more relevant in this environment where there are fewer lawyers and there's a clear reporting hierarchy. I don't think I could make AGC without the current AGC getting a promotion, which in turn wouldn't make sense without his boss getting a promotion. And there's just not much room to go up until you're at the top.

Does that make sense? It's making a lot of assumptions, but basically the concern is that I'd be on the bottom of the totem pole indefinitely until a change in personnel or other shake up event. Whereas in a larger organization, I think there might be more flexibility. For instance, after a few years there could be an opening for an AGC at a different product group that I could promoted into, or maybe my primary boss is a few "tiers" above me in the hierarchy, which would give me some room to grow into an intermediate position fairly easily.

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