How to Chart Your Path to an In-House Legal Role

How do you break into an in-house legal position? In this post, legal experts discuss how you can increase your marketability and connect directly with in-house legal recruiters and hiring managers.

In our most recent blog post, we reflected on the rise of in-house legal careers and proposed structural solutions to help build the candidate pipeline for in-house counsel positions. Of course, many of these changes won’t happen overnight, so how can in-house hopefuls get started right now? Fortunately, for lawyers and law students looking to reach out directly to in-house legal recruiters and hiring managers, it’s never been easier.

Getting Connected

With the rise in prevalence of social media platforms like LinkedIn, there is increased visibility into alternative career paths, not to mention direct access to prominent leaders in the field and an opportunity to maximize your own marketability.

For example, LinkedIn can allow students to connect with in-house attorneys that aren’t coming to campus for on-campus interviews. This type of interview is typically a structured, enclosed environment, but as a student, you can set yourself apart in other ways by going straight to the source. For anyone targeting in-house positions–both students and currently practicing lawyers–don’t forget to keep your LinkedIn profile updated with key projects, connections, publications, skills, professional affiliations, and companies you follow. Savvy candidates are finding ways to take advantage of the limited degrees of separation we see today. You never know who will find your profile and be able to open the right doors for you. 

Maximizing Opportunities

Another tried and true method is “working backwards.” Find someone you look up to and who holds the type of role you want to work towards. What kind of prior experiences did they have before stepping into their current position? What roles did they have or what skills does it look like they developed along the way? LinkedIn is of course a great place to start this research, but the most motivated people will take it one step further and reach out directly to the person they look up to for an informational interview. 

Informational interviews are a great way to find out how and why someone arrived at their current job, what advice they would give to someone looking to break into the field, and even gain additional introductions to other people who may know of job openings or companies that are hiring.

Transitioning Gracefully to In-House

Many people will have different expectations for your career–your peers and colleagues, family, mentors, friends, and society, but what matters most is what you want to get out of your career. Explore any and all resources at your disposal so that you can make the most informed decisions and get to where you want to go. 

Read books, watch webinars, and be hungry for resources that can teach you the essential skills all in-house lawyers need to have. Building a knowledge base will help you understand the mechanics of clauses, contracts, knowing the law, and how to spot issues and risks.

What does this look like in practice? When Jack Terschluse, Corporate Counsel and Head of Procurement at Balto, saw going in-house as a viable opportunity, but “only” had experience as a lawyer at a big law firm, he worked diligently to fill gaps in his experience to fast-track his transition to in-house. As Jack advises, learn enough to spot issues that general counsels confront, then go out and build a career that you want to grow in.

Want to keep up with more legal insights and fresh perspectives? Follow Evisort on LinkedIn today. 

This article was written by Memme Onwudiwe, Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Intelligence at Evisort, Jack Terschluse, Corporate Counsel & Acting Corporate Secretary, Head of Procurement at Balto, and Lynn Ma, JD Candidate at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, and was first published by the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists. It has been edited and adapted slightly for this blog series.

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