Five Recommendations on How to Strategically Position Yourself for an In House Opportunity:
1. Know what you want. What are you moving toward in your career? Is there a company that has a product or service that you are passionate about? How large a company do you want to work for (as measured by number of employees or annual revenues)? Remember that corporate culture can vary greatly and culture matters. It is important to understand what culture you will thrive in and grow in.
2. Demonstrate that you are solutions focused. Companies do not want research memos from their law department. They do not want a menu of options. Business people want to know how they can achieve their business objectives while minimizing risk. An effective in house lawyer provides recommendations and real solutions that further business objectives.
3. Develop as broad a skillset as possible while in private practice. Companies increasingly seek lawyers that have a breadth of experience beyond their core practice area. If two equally talented corporate lawyers are being considered for an in house role and one of them also has licensing experience and a familiarity with the protection of intellectual property, that lawyer has a distinct advantage in the interview process.
4. Your resume should be written so that it speaks to business people. When your audience is business people and in house counsel, the language of your resume shifts from report writing to “accomplishment writing”. The following two statements are primarily communicating the same data but use different communication styles.
- Resume for a law firm position: Serve as lead counsel on mergers & acquisitions.
- Resume for an in house position: Successfully led complex negotiations for acquisitions of target companies valued at $500 million which increased market share by 20%.
In the second example, the focus is on outcomes and results.
5. Being prepared for an interview is paramount.
You must know what a company does, the products it makes or the services it provides. How does your business acumen and legal training bring added value to the business? How can your skills be an asset to the legal department and to the company? Are you able to intelligently discuss trends that are impacting the business or the industry?
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