Wednesday, May 6, 2009

addressing some questions

Someone asked about whether it would be a good idea to keep a suit (or at least a blazer) in the office if you are in a business casual environment.  Answer: yes.  In fact, when I worked at a firm that decided to go business casual, it was a requirement that you keep a suit in the office.  Let's say you are sitting around, doing your research this summer, and Partner Susan comes by and says she has a court hearing at 2pm, and she didn't think about this before, but would you like to come?  You don't want to look at your outfit and think "uh oh."  You want to be ready to go (which is why I like the more formal work attire anyway, it looks nice, and it is just ready for impromptu meetings and the like).

Exit options - this may merit a whole separate post, but I can start now.  Well, as far as going in-house, there are a few practice areas that come to mind - general corporate/commercial - lots of companies have lawyers working on commercial contracts in -house (contracts where they buy services/products, contracts to sell their services/product etc.).  At lot of in-house counsel are more "generalists," so the broader range of experience you can show, the better.   Intellectual property is another.  There's some great in house jobs for lawyers who can help protect a company's IP.  Employment law - another good one -- there's employment lawyers all over the place and many companies have employment lawyers in-house to handle regular HR issues, policies, handbooks, employment contracts and non-competes, etc.  Litigators - yes, companies do hire them - to handle day to day matters, and I even know of some very large companies who hire litigators to work on contracts -- because the litigators know the issues that may get the companies into trouble.  Even though the law firms have been encouraging specializing, I do think that if you can get broader experience within your general area, that would be helpful for exit strategies.

Now, a separate word of advice -- and you know I have mentioned this one before -- networking, building relationships, staying in touch, building your reputation -- all are key here.  Most in house jobs are not found through legal trade press listings or other advertisements.  Most are filled through referrals.  I frequently get emails from friends in house asking if I know someone for a new position - this is very common, because the in house people want a co-worker who is a known quantity (to someone). If they come highly recommend by, say, HP,  my in house friend has that to go on and going into the interview the person has a leg up because friend can tell GC or if friend is GC, just consider, that this is someone who has been tested and trusted by HP.  I have to say, I get these requests fairly often.  Now, if you are someone I worked with and I thought you didn't seem that committed to the job, or did sloppy work, or were real difficult to work with, obviously I am not recommending you to my in house friend.

And I know I mentioned this before, but if you are the candidate and you see an opening, you may want to reach out to your network to ask if they know anyone in-house or even non-lawyer at the company who may be in a position to take your resume and get it in the right hands.  Just the other day, I saw a friend on Facebook ask some of us on Facebook if we knew anyone at XYZ company.  Doesn't hurt to ask.  And make sure you express your appreciation if someone does take the extra step and get your resume in the door.  


Anonymous said...

Great post HP. So how does one go about balancing the need for specialty in a firm setting without cutting oneself off at the needs in terms of exit options?

For us summer associates who do not know exactly what we want to practice, or if we will want to stay in the big firm setting long term, how should we go about choosing a practice area? Is it as simple as some say, to just go with whatever you like the most? Personally I imagine I'll like several areas..

Thank you for the insight.

Anonymous said...

Now this is all good advice.

Anonymous said...


What is the rule about taking to-go boxes home from lunches with associates? Even though I know lunches will be fewer, I am concerned both about my wallet and waistline this summer.


Anonymous said...

Tomorrow is day one, let's see how this goes.