References are powerful weapons in your job search arsenal

Most people think of references as a list of three people you hand over to a prospective employer after the company has decided it wants to hire you. But a proactive and strategic reference can help you long before you receive an offer, especially if you might need help getting in the door for an interview.

The power reference (PR) is someone who can make a difference. In rare cases, it will be a star, like a well-known general counsel or, for example, a U.S. Senator. Fame is not a prerequisite, however. The essential ingredient to a power reference is the relationship between the PR and the hiring decision-maker who receives the PR’s call. The relationship between you and the PR does not need to be nearly as strong or in-depth as you think. More 

Socializing with service providers: take you out to the ballgame?

Culture-Fit-artSo, this is not really an invitation. But it could be. I’m not sure. Would you like one? I seek your input on the pros and cons of socializing with outside service providers.

Earlier this month, I wrote a column for Inside Counsel addressing corporate social activity among current and potential employees, especially at the executive level. I probably came down a little too hard on a perfectly nice golf outing, but I wanted to address the ongoing challenge of accessing diverse pools of talent, and going beyond existing comfort zones to do so.

My thoughts on social functions with service providers are less clear. This is because I am not objective on the topic. I enjoy socializing with our clients, and I want to engage in any activity that helps build relationships. More 

Chicago native and successful lawyer settles in as GC of Hub Group

Doug BeckDoug Beck moved around a lot as a kid. Born in the western suburbs of Chicago, Beck moved to Kentucky, New Jersey, then back to Chicago, then on to Tennessee and Nevada during childhood, thanks to his father’s job as a technology executive for various companies. But Beck always felt most at home in the Windy City.

An avid reader and writer who wanted to utilize those skills within a respected profession, Beck decided early on he would become a lawyer. So when it came time to go to college, he stayed in Illinois—attending University of Illinois, Champaign. “I knew back then I would go to law school, so U of I was not only a great school to prepare me for that, it also was a state school with reasonable tuition. Ultimately it was law school that would determine future opportunities,” Beck explained.

Graduating from U of I after only three years and getting into Northwestern University School of Law, he decided to take a year and move to Ecuador, where he taught English. After he graduated from law school, Beck joined Seyfarth Shaw as a litigation associate—launching the career that would one day land him in the GC seat of Hub Group, one of the country’s largest freight transportation management companies. More 

Personal advocate: Meredith Ritchie from paralegal to general counsel

MRitchieChicago-native Meredith Ritchie had her sights set on a career in broadcast journalism. Growing up in the north shore suburbs, Ritchie graduated from New Trier High School and headed to New York, where she attended a small liberal arts institution, Hamilton College.

Just as she did in high school, Ritchie thrived as a student at Hamilton. She spent her junior year studying in Paris, where she mastered French. Returning home to Chicago the following summer, Ritchie landed an internship with a suburban radio station, then took the following semester as “independent study” when she landed a second radio station internship at Chicago’s WLS. When she returned to Hamilton the next semester, she started her own radio show, Mainstreams, on which she and her co-host interviewed local businesspeople and professors about their work and careers. There was no question; Ritchie was already building a successful career as a broadcast journalist. More 

Cybersecurity is the new insecurity

CultureFit image May15The general counsel role continues to expand, and in-house lawyers are integral players in business development activity. But the most important piece of any GC’s job description remains as simple as this: Protect the Company.

Accordingly, I often ask our clients: “What keeps you up at night?” After the hack into Sony’s internal computer network, the eye-opening “60 Minutes” piece that followed, and a general recognition that all companies are vulnerable to cyberattack, the answer is fairly unanimous.

No wonder the word “cybersecurity” was used in 20 percent of the agenda items at last week’s InsideCounsel SuperConference, and cybersecurity was the keynote topic. I looked through my old conference programs from previous years, and I couldn’t find the word cybersecurity anywhere. So, is the concern overblown, reminiscent of “Y2K” fears back in 1999? More 

Guest columnist Sheila Nielsen discusses applying creativity in your job search

nielsen052809Sitting in for Meredith Haydon this issue, we welcome Sheila Nielsen as our guest columnist for Your Career. This is an interesting take on the value of creativity in your networking efforts. Sheila is a believer in making your own luck, a theme that runs throughout her new book, now available at Amazon, titled: “Job Quest for Lawyers: The Essential Guide to Finding and Landing the Job You Want.”

Why Steve Jobs’ Ideas About Creativity Are Important for Your Job Search

“There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘wow’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

– Walter Issacson quoting Steve Jobs in his biography, Steve Jobs.

Brainstorming is a creative and exciting process. People get together, think about a problem, and come up with ideas and solutions. When it comes to your job search, you want to brainstorm with a lot of people and you want those creative juices flowing. More 

Congratulations David Kingman

Updated 9/15:  Another win-win success story.  Thank you, David Kingman.  Orbitz converted David from on-site adjunct counsel via our firm to direct hire Corporate Counsel in late August.

Updated 5/18:  Congratulations Dave Kingman (Northwestern JD, most recently in-house with Walgreens)!  Your pedigree and experience with a wide range of commercial agreements, including work with various technology platforms, is a perfect fit.

We have been exclusively engaged by Orbitz to provide a commercial contracts attorney via our Adjunct Counsel service (i.e. — you will be on our payroll), for an immediate full-time need serving the growing Private Label Group.  4+ years of commercial contracts experience; compensation is a competitive hourly rate via Evers Legal.  Position is at Orbitz HQ in downtown Chicago.  Duration of assignment:  Ongoing.  It is public information that Expedia is acquiring Orbitz pending Justice Department approval.  The position you would be filling may become direct hire permanent, but there is uncertainty longer term with respect to whether the position will remain as-is in Chicago.  If interested and for further details, please email your resume to mike@everslegal.com.

55% of Law Departments added Headcount in 2014

If survey summary info and pie charts are to be believed… according to Corporate Counsel’s 2014 law department benchmarking survey, 55% of law departments increased headcount last year.  That looks and feels about right to us, and it’s an extraordinarily high percentage compared with previous years.  Static headcount is the norm; increases and decreases are usually the outliers.  See:  http://www.corpcounsel.com/home/id=1202676090048/2014-Law-Department-Metrics-Benchmarking-Survey?mcode=1202615405140&curindex=0

 

4 Tips for becoming a successful networker

YourCareer-networkNetworking. Many believe it’s essential to building a successful career in any profession. And in law, that sentiment is especially true.

But despite networking’s inarguable value, lawyers often find it to be a challenge—even a downright chore. While effective networking takes time, effort and research, the potential rewards—discovering a mentor, stumbling upon a highly sought after position or simply learning something new and relevant—are invaluable. The reality is, like it or not, getting out there and networking is critical to your success. More 

The price of poker has gone up

CultureFit-pokerWhenever you read about hiring trends in the trade press, the article usually focuses on growth industries and so called “hot” practice areas (i.e. compliance, intellectual property, data privacy, etc). But I am seeing a more interesting hiring trend that is not practice- or industry-specific.

In a nutshell, companies appear more focused than ever on building “best in class” law departments. Many departments are there already and it’s a matter of maintaining quality standards. I use Baxter Healthcare as an example here. Baxter has kindly partnered with us to make a couple of key hires related to the pending spinout of its BioSciences division into a new public company. If you are interested in one of these positions—VP, Information Policy and Management and Securities Counsel—or have a candidate referral to recommend, please contact me. You would be joining a team that is already A-tier in terms of pedigree, work ethic, mission orientation and community service. More