Landing an In-house Law Job (Summary of #LawJobChat No. 3)

The third #LawJobChat featured Richard Russeth, VP & General Counsel at Leprino Foods Company, answering questions about landing an in-house law job.  I’ve noted some highlights of the discussion below, and you can read the full transcript here.

Qualifications You Need to Obtain In-house Law Job

  • 5 years of experience
  • Some larger corporations will hire recent law school graduates with no experience
  • Specialized roles like IP may require more than 5 years of experience
  • General contract work may require less experience
  • Generalist background is helpful
  • SEC experience also helpful

Tips for Litigators Who Want to Transition to In-house Position

  • Most companies farm out their litigation work so you need to be able to manage litigation if you want an in-house position
  • Do Westlaw search to see which companies are drowning in litigation and target those companies in your job search
  • Consumer intensive companies (not business to business) are more likely to hire litigators

Tips for Law Students Who Want to Work In-house

  • Don’t overspecialize in law school
  • Intern for a company after your 1L year, intern for a firm after your 2L

In-house Hiring Process

  • Slower process (compared to firm hiring)
  • Don’t look for in-house jobs in 4th Quarter
  • Use your networks and recruiters
  • LinkedIn is key to building your network – Richard advised law students to begin building their networks on LinkedIn in their 1L year (he’d like my First-Year Plan! :-) )
  • ACC job board is excellent source for job openings
  • Avoid Monster.com
  • Build relationships with GCs on Twitter – Twitter is a great place to find out about people

In-house Compensation

  • Typically 70% lower than firms initially; close to parity after 7-10 years
  • Bonus tied to company’s performance; 30% is typical

Advantages/Disadvantages

  • Advantages:  Quality of life, interesting practice
  • Disadvantages:  Not easy to transition back into private practice (litigators and IP folks have easier time transitioning back into private practice)

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