In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

(Discuss Advantages vs Disadvantages, Making the Switch From Private Practice to In-House, Compensation & Hours, Work-Life balance, In-House Reviews & Experiences)
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In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:01 pm

I have used the message board back during OCI and then as a summer associate so I figure I can give back and answer any questions. I am a couple months into an in-house gig. Just a little background, I was a corporate (mostly M&A) mid-level at V50 in a major market prior to making the switch. I am now at a small-mid size public company (around $10 billion market cap). I was a little unsure about making the switch, but have been really happy so far. Happy to answer any questions.

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broadstreet11

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by broadstreet11 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:04 pm

Does your company have any roles for litigators/would your company consider litigators for a general in-house job? Any recommendations for litigation in house? Thanks for taking questions.

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broadstreet11

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by broadstreet11 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:09 pm

Also, what was the hiring process like? Did you use a recruiter? How'd you find the job? What was the interview like? Etc. Thanks!

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jkpolk

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by jkpolk » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:24 pm

Can you talk a little bit about what your office culture is like?

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:45 pm

broadstreet11 wrote:Does your company have any roles for litigators/would your company consider litigators for a general in-house job? Any recommendations for litigation in house? Thanks for taking questions.
Yes, we have litigation counsel. I don't think litigators would be considered for the corporate counsel positions (maybe compliance). Based on the litigators at my company and what I have seen from other places, it seems like it just takes a little longer for litigators to get in-house opportunities. Most of the corporate people here came over as mid-levels if not junior, whereas the litigator was a senior associate. I did use a recruiter. I would recommend that people use recruiters if they do want to go in-house, especially litigators since there are generally fewer litigation in-house roles. Only other thing I can think of is just get contract drafting experience if you can and just apply broadly.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:51 pm

jkpolk wrote:Can you talk a little bit about what your office culture is like?
The legal office culture is a little different than the rest of the office. All the lawyers have their own offices, while only senior finance people have offices and only the most senior engineers have their own offices. Which I am happy about cause I like having my own space and privacy, but it comes at a cost. Rest of HQ seems to have little face time requirement. We in legal are expected to be in the office every day unless you have a doctor's appointment or something that requires you to be away from the office.

People are friendly though and you're expected to work hard from 8-5:30 or so, but after that you are pretty much left alone. It is a big change from big law

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yodamiked

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by yodamiked » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:57 pm

Thanks, OP. Can you speak to generally the type of work you do? Can you also speak to what kind of firm experience your company generally looks for in candidates?

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jkpolk

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by jkpolk » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
jkpolk wrote:Can you talk a little bit about what your office culture is like?
The legal office culture is a little different than the rest of the office. All the lawyers have their own offices, while only senior finance people have offices and only the most senior engineers have their own offices. Which I am happy about cause I like having my own space and privacy, but it comes at a cost. Rest of HQ seems to have little face time requirement. We in legal are expected to be in the office every day unless you have a doctor's appointment or something that requires you to be away from the office.

People are friendly though and you're expected to work hard from 8-5:30 or so, but after that you are pretty much left alone. It is a big change from big law
Sweet. How much interaction do you have with non-legal folks and what is that like? What do you think the biggest learning curves are around coming from corporate?

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:06 pm

yodamiked wrote:Thanks, OP. Can you speak to generally the type of work you do? Can you also speak to what kind of firm experience your company generally looks for in candidates?
I am handling most of the contract drafting and also the M&A plus a lot of the corporate functions. For firm experience kind of depends on the position cause our roles are pretty silo'd between Corporate, Lit, Real Estate and Compliance. We definitely have people that are more generalists from small firms, but generally the corporate people have either M&A or securities experience, the litigation people have experience managing cases and the real estate people do whatever real estate attorneys do.

But I am one of only two former big law attorneys out of 8. Our GC definitely is not the kind of person that cares about where someone went to law school. We do mostly use big law firms for outside counsel so if you come from one of the firms we use that probably helps, but otherwise it seems to be all about the person and not the firm or school.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:15 pm

jkpolk wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
jkpolk wrote:Can you talk a little bit about what your office culture is like?
The legal office culture is a little different than the rest of the office. All the lawyers have their own offices, while only senior finance people have offices and only the most senior engineers have their own offices. Which I am happy about cause I like having my own space and privacy, but it comes at a cost. Rest of HQ seems to have little face time requirement. We in legal are expected to be in the office every day unless you have a doctor's appointment or something that requires you to be away from the office.

People are friendly though and you're expected to work hard from 8-5:30 or so, but after that you are pretty much left alone. It is a big change from big law
Sweet. How much interaction do you have with non-legal folks and what is that like? What do you think the biggest learning curves are around coming from corporate?
Non-legal folks are who I deal with 90% of the time. It is our business folks and engineers that generate the deals that I then negotiate/create agreements for. Only deal with legal folks when I am negotiating with the other side or talking to outside counsel.

Biggest learning curve is the variety of agreements and business lingo. In M&A, I drafted purchase agreements and the handful of ancillary docs around it. In-house, there are dozens of different types of agreements and I don't have a data privacy or patent specialist to help draft the sections anymore. Obviously if it is a complex or major agreement, I work with outside counsel, but the expectation is that I should know how to do the vast majority of the work myself. That is where someone from a smaller firm might actually have an advantage cause they probably have worked on all sorts of agreements and did them without specialist help. But I am getting the hang of it and hopefully won't mess anything up too bad.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:20 pm

broadstreet11 wrote:Also, what was the hiring process like? Did you use a recruiter? How'd you find the job? What was the interview like? Etc. Thanks!
Sorry missed this question. I feel like this was very different than most companies. I had done a couple interviews with public companies before this and it was part of a 4 step process if not more. This was just a screener call and then in person meeting with the entire team and they made a decision right after. So much more like big law than most public companies. Maybe using a recruiter helped expedite it.

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almondjoy

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by almondjoy » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:26 pm

Compensation breakdown? e.g. Cash base, bonus, equity, etc.

Thanks for doing this!

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:34 pm

almondjoy wrote:Compensation breakdown? e.g. Cash base, bonus, equity, etc.

Thanks for doing this!
2/3 salary, 20% bonus and then just over 10% equity plus 401k match. Overall not much of a paycut from what I was making as a 4th year, but bigger paycut for more senior associates.

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illini2013

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by illini2013 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:12 pm

Do you have any say in outside counsel? Did your firm help you at all with the job?

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by AdInfinitum » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:13 pm

How'd you decide on a recruiter for the in-house position? Virtually all of the recruiter emails/calls I get are for lateral positions (unsurprising given i'm much more junior), but there's so many it seems hard cut through the weeds.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:10 am

illini2013 wrote:Do you have any say in outside counsel? Did your firm help you at all with the job?
I do have say for smaller matters. I haven't had the opportunity to pick for an acquisition, I am guessing there I will have input, but not final say.

The firm was supportive and I have used them for things so it is a win win for them.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:37 am

AdInfinitum wrote:How'd you decide on a recruiter for the in-house position? Virtually all of the recruiter emails/calls I get are for lateral positions (unsurprising given i'm much more junior), but there's so many it seems hard cut through the weeds.
Got connected to the recruiter by a mentor who was an AGC at a large company. And even this recruiter tried to bring up firm jobs occasionally. I was just adamant that I would only leave for an in-house gig. And eventually they brought a couple forward. Generally agree that it is hard because they really push firm jobs, especially the ones that cold call or cold email. I think the best way to go about it is reach out to people you know in-house and they can connect you with people they have used or at least trust.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:09 pm

Bumping this cause I am trying to avoid working on a long agreement. Happy to answer any other questions.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:22 pm

Deleted double post
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:25 pm

broadstreet11 wrote:Does your company have any roles for litigators/would your company consider litigators for a general in-house job? Any recommendations for litigation in house? Thanks for taking questions.
I am not OP, but I am a former litigation associate who went in-house and became a regulatory attorney. I had some broadly relevant experience, but not really any directly relevant experience.

A big part of the job is representing the company in regulatory proceedings, many of which are similar to regular litigation (with discovery, pleadings, briefs, testimony), but less formal in certain ways. I also prepare regulatory filings, comment on proposed regulations and relevant legislation, offer counsel to internal clients, and occasionally appeal an agency decision to a court. Using outside counsel is the exception, not the rule in my practice area at my company. Most proceedings are handled entirely by our in-house team operating as a small law firm. So I still do a lot of writing and have lots of filing deadlines.

My manager was open to hiring a litigator for the job because he felt that the new hire could learn the relevant law and regulations on the job. I don't know how widespread that sort of mindset is, but I think it's worth thinking out of the box and applying for roles beyond the typical "need someone with litigation experience to manage outside litigation counsel."

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by 1styearlateral » Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:43 am

I know you discussed comp/bonus, but have you been around long enough to see how much of a yearly pay raise your company gives in addition to bonus?

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:07 pm

Not OP but on the comment regarding fewer ex-big law attorneys, it might be something to notice if multiple numbers of the legal department don't have outside firm experience. Not necessarily biglaw but some solid firm training particularly for companies that should have some sophisticated legal or regulatory work. It can be a bit of a flag for health and the department's perceived value. Some companies have definitely hired straight from law school but that is/was typically right around the recession and seemingly almost exclusively candidates from the T10 schools.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:37 pm

1styearlateral wrote:I know you discussed comp/bonus, but have you been around long enough to see how much of a yearly pay raise your company gives in addition to bonus?
I haven't gone through my review. But I was told typical raises are 3%, although they do have performance raises that can go up to 10%, but no idea how often or likely that is so I am preparing myself for just the 3% raise. That doesn't include stock options though, that is an area where I plan on pushing for larger increases. Also, the company seems to be pretty quick about promotion. You can go from corporate counsel to VP of legal in a few years and promotions carry larger increases with corresponding increases in bonus percentage and stock.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:I have used the message board back during OCI and then as a summer associate so I figure I can give back and answer any questions. I am a couple months into an in-house gig. Just a little background, I was a corporate (mostly M&A) mid-level at V50 in a major market prior to making the switch. I am now at a small-mid size public company (around $10 billion market cap). I was a little unsure about making the switch, but have been really happy so far. Happy to answer any questions.

Thanks for doing this OP. I’m about to start my career at a V5 and am pretty amped up about staying for the long haul. Obviously this could change, but I just don’t see my personality fitting well with an in house role and am wondering if you or any of your friends who have made the switch miss any aspects of Big Law or regret the switch. Based on your initial post you don’t seem to fall in the latter camp, but it’s a topic that doesn’t get much coverage here and am wondering if you’ve seen instances where the good hours and good pay don’t make folks as happy as they thought it would vis a vis firm life.

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Re: In-House Lawyer Taking Questions

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have used the message board back during OCI and then as a summer associate so I figure I can give back and answer any questions. I am a couple months into an in-house gig. Just a little background, I was a corporate (mostly M&A) mid-level at V50 in a major market prior to making the switch. I am now at a small-mid size public company (around $10 billion market cap). I was a little unsure about making the switch, but have been really happy so far. Happy to answer any questions.

Thanks for doing this OP. I’m about to start my career at a V5 and am pretty amped up about staying for the long haul. Obviously this could change, but I just don’t see my personality fitting well with an in house role and am wondering if you or any of your friends who have made the switch miss any aspects of Big Law or regret the switch. Based on your initial post you don’t seem to fall in the latter camp, but it’s a topic that doesn’t get much coverage here and am wondering if you’ve seen instances where the good hours and good pay don’t make folks as happy as they thought it would vis a vis firm life.
Only had one other good friend go in-house at a much larger company (fortune 50). He is actually incredibly bored because there is not much to do and is trying to go back to a firm. Former co-workers that have gone in-house have stayed there, but I honestly don't know how they feel. I think the dangers of going in-house especially early, are losing out on developing skills and potentially being really bored. I think that is more likely if you go to a bigger company. The bigger the company, the more lawyers they have and so you can end up basically working on the same contract or matter all the time. I am lucky in that our legal department is big enough so that I have some support, but I still have a huge variety of matters I am working on.

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