- On April 12, 2020
I usually post on immediate things you can do for your career, but I like this Corporate Counsel article on what big picture things Columbia Law In-House Counsel Lab is teaching students who want to work in-house. Recent speakers have included Colin Stretch, the former Facebook GC, and Bruce Sewell, the former Apple and Oracle GC.
Here are three tips from the program if you aspire to be an in-house leader:
- Get used to making decisions with speed and incomplete information. Colin notes because decisions have to be made so quickly, “there is no time to go to outside counsel.” Instead, you need to have built up an intimate knowledge of the company and have robust in-house lawyers handle things. He says, “Speed and context require more and more robust in-house counsel function—that is the trend and it will continue.”
- Think about issues concretely from the company’s perspective, not a theoretical one. Colin notes writing an email to the CEO is different from legal writing assignments. I have noticed employers want candidates with top school and firm training but are concerned they can’t communicate simply and persuasively.
- Decide if you want to work in-house early so you can get the right background. Because law departments generally don’t hire right out of law school, Bruce Sewell “advises students to think about what to do in the first three to five years of their careers to make them eventually attractive to in-house departments.” Most of my clients want to see top firm training, ideally in a transactional practice (especially corporate or tech trans), counseling top technology clients, with exposure to a variety of areas, including corporate, commercial, IP, privacy, antitrust, employment, etc. Absent firm training, my clients like candidates who interned at leading technology companies and trained with former big firm lawyers.