Career Advice Columns

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Most Recent InsideCounsel Columns

  • July 05, 2018 – Should an In-House Attorney Get an MBA? — This column addresses a very specific question, which I have been asked repeatedly over the years: Should an in-house attorney get an MBA? … Read More
  • June 05, 2018 – GCs: How to Manage New Hire Expectations — The results from the 2018 Career Satisfaction survey for in-house counsel make it abundantly clear that most of you crave upward mobility. … Read More
  • May 03, 2018 – Sourcing Your Next Great Hire — Attention general counsel: When you have an opening to fill, are you sure that the person you really want to hire even knows you are hiring? … Read More
  • April 05, 2018 – Typos Are Tolerated When the Deadline for Everything Is Now — Today, I expect typos. On resumes! From attorneys who graduated from Top 20 law schools. It may surprise you that the worst offenders are not unemployed lawyers with below market pedigree … Read More
  • March 07, 2018 – 10 Tips for the New GC Hired From Outside — Congratulations! You have just been hired as the new general counsel of Awesome, Inc. You are new to the company, the CEO is excited to have you on her team, and so you are starting the job with a … Read More
  • February 02, 2018 – What Makes an In-House Career Satisfying? It’s Not About the Money — Compensation matters. But while everyone knows that a select group of general counsel are paid handsomely, the fact remains that “BigLaw” law firm attorneys make more versus most of their experience-level counterparts in-house … Read More
  • January 09, 2018 – Tips from GCs to Aspiring GCs — Nothing beats hearing directly from successful professionals who have been where you want to go. I appreciate the ongoing opportunity to connect with in-house counsel via this column, and I frequently offer my two cents on strategy and marketability for readers who want to sit in a General Counsel chair down the road … Read More
  • December 12, 2017 – In Between In-House Jobs? Two Dos and One Don’t While You’re on the Hunt — So, your company has gone bankrupt, been acquired, or relocated its headquarters to the moon. These are generally considered the “good” reasons for being in-between positions while searching for a new in-house position. Nonetheless, and I know it’s not fair … Read More
  • October 05, 2017 – Hippity Hoppity – I am seeing more and more resumes with multiple employers over a short span of time. I’m not talking about contract roles, or law firms that merge or practice groups that move. Those are all situations where a resume might look confusing at first, but … Read More
  • September 22, 2017 – Law Department Politics 101 – A new General Counsel has just joined your company, and she was an external hire. For service providers, like my search firm, a new GC from the outside usually means dramatic change. This summer, I lost a long term … Read More
  • August 10, 2017 – Compensation Disclosure: Trending Towards “No” – In addition to a resume and our candidate assessment, clients always ask us to provide current compensation information. It’s common practice, as no company wants to spend time interviewing an attorney who would ultimately reject its best offer. And although many attorneys bristle with reluctance … Read More
  • July 19, 2017 – Know when a candidate will, or won’t, relocate for your department – Many of our firm’s search assignments involve geographic relocation. I learned the hard way about relocation cold feet when we lost a placement with Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati twelve years ago. Our candidate had accepted a position and backed out two days before his … Read More
  • June 7, 2017 – Broadening beyond your specialty niche – Many of our searches are, in fact, subject matter specific requests. Please get us a great securities, or IP, or ERISA attorney, etc. Subject matter experts do hit ceilings once in-house, however … Read More
  • May 1, 2017 – Career Conundrum: Surprise! You’re Now the “Interim General Counsel” – Your General Counsel has left and you have been asked to take on the role. It’s what you have been wanting, perhaps for years. But wait, there’s a catch. You are being promoted to … Read More
  • April 3, 2017 – How to Create an Ego-Free Résumé – The best résumé advice is to custom tailor whenever possible. If you are putting yourself forward for an executive General Counsel position with a sizable law department, for example, then you should be writing about … Read More
  • March 13, 2017 – When Should You Make the Move In-House? – Spoiler alert: There is a simple and clear cut answer, in my opinion, to the question posed in this column title. The answer to when you should move in-house is … Read More
  • February 23, 2017 – Beware of the General Counsel Title – If you ask 100 inside counsel if they would like the title “General Counsel,” somewhere between 99 and 100 will say yes. I understand that, especially if the position is with an established company and compensated accordingly. These are … Read More
  • January 27, 2017 – Would You Hire Yourself for the Job You Are Doing Now? – If you were to write a job description for the day-to-day responsibilities of the position you hold now, what would it look like? Did you keep the job description from when you interviewed with your current employer? … Read More
  • December 01, 2016 – “Yes, And” to Pot, Trump and 2017 – You are uniquely positioned to look beyond the cringe-worthy election and think about potential changes at every federal agency. Your role is incredibly valuable in 2017. So, did I draw you in with that headline? Good. But you won’t be reading about … Read More
  • November 01, 2016 – Come Meet Us at the In-house Innovates Superconference in Chicago – I hope you will attend this year’s In-house Innovates Superconference on Nov. 15 and 16 in Chicago. I am proud to return as a session moderator for the first time since 2013. It will be my fifth time playing … Read More
  • October 03, 2016 – Need an Attorney? There’s an App for That – It might seem odd that a recruiter is writing about another technology that will soon eat away at how he pays his mortgage, but that has not stopped me in the past. I’ve offered advice to attorneys on how to build … Read More
  • September 01, 2016 – Guess what? Law departments are hiring – I like a happy headline every now and then. And 2016 is clearly a healthy year for law department hiring. The reductions-in-force are limited to companies that have … Read More
  • August 09, 2016 – Hiring “temp to perm” best practices – Most law departments make use of on-site contract attorneys, either regularly or periodically. Usually, the purpose is to cover during a staff absence, attack a specific one-time project, or … Read More
  • July 29, 2016 – Want to improve your job performance? Embrace a critic – Even the most self-aware and self-motivated inside counsel get lulled into set behaviors and hit ceilings. Often, “self-improvement” really starts when someone … Read More
  • June 01, 2016 – 5 relocation tips for employers – Many of our firm’s search assignments involve geographic relocation, often to small markets with only one or two major corporate employers. We’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out … Read More
  • May 02, 2016 – Win the turf battle with HR – You know the drill. Your department wants to hire a new counsel to senior counsel-level attorney. You don’t want someone too junior who will need training and struggle to operate independently. But you are not offering a … Read More
  • April 15, 2016 – You’re hired! And the winner is… – Within three minutes of meeting an attorney, I know if she will interview well. All of the key ingredients show themselves quickly: self-confidence, likeability, modesty and … Read More
  • March 1, 2016 – Four tips for retaining good talent – What do inside counsel enjoy most about their jobs? According to our Career Satisfaction Survey, your #1 answer is “intellectual stimulation.” This leads me to suggest a few tips for law department leaders who want to retain their most productive and promising people … Read More
  • February 1, 2016 – A fun tip for raising your profile – Last month, I wrote about gaining access to executive level relationships. Staying with our theme of climbing the law department ladder, I offer a specific tip as this month’s column. It will generate positive … Read More
  • January 5, 2016 – Career Matters: Climb the ladder in 2016 – Happy New Year! We are keeping our Career Satisfaction Survey open for a few more weeks before reporting results. Early responses are clear on one point, however. The vast majority of you want to … Read More
  • December 1, 2015 – Money Isn’t Everything With In-House Careers – People who are primarily motivated by money become sales professionals, investment bankers and business owners. Lawyers are paid well, especially at the General Counsel level, but other factors usually drive the decision to practice law … Read More
  • November 13, 2015 – Move out – I recently took a call from an attorney I placed 16 years ago. He is with the same company, but that company is being sold and he is being let go with a severance package. This individual has put some money aside, but he is not in a position … Read More
  • October 13, 2015 – Move on – This is the second of a three part series designed to offer practical tips for inside counsel who feel unhappy or vulnerable in their current positions. Last month, I presented a few temporary stop gap ideas designed to … Read More
  • September 10, 2015 – Viagra for your Career – Pending FDA approval, I could title this column “Flibanserin for your Career,” but until the so-called Viagra for women hits the mainstream with a better brand name, I went with something more likely to … Read More
  • August 5, 2015 – Small markets offer big career options – When you poke around the job boards, it is likely with a specific location in mind. So, the deputy chief counsel position with BAE Systems might not cross your radar screen. And do you know that Kellogg is hiring a … Read More
  • July 2, 2015 – Culture fit as a diversity blocker – I was struck by a recent lunch conversation with a general counsel that took me back to a much earlier time in my career. Hint: I don’t golf. In the context of networking that might lead to a position with a much larger company, my lunch companion talked about … Read More
  • June 4, 2015 – Cybersecurity expertise equals marketability – The general counsel role continues to expand, and in-house lawyers are integral players in business development activity. But the most important piece of any general counsel’s job description remains as simple as this: Protect The Company … Read More
  • May 7, 2015 – Executive coaching: A skeptic is giving it a try – With the InsideCounsel SuperConference taking place this month, I am fondly recalling my favorite moment from 10+ years attending or speaking at this terrific event. I was moderating a general counsel panel four years ago on the topic of Mentoring. An audience member asked the panel, “Who are your mentors?” … Read More
  • April 9, 2015 – How ‘Next Step’ GC candidates can put their best foot forward – “Next Step” candidates are senior level attorneys currently reporting to a General Counsel, but who aspire to the GC role. Stewart Hirsch wrote an interesting three-part series on this topic for Inside Counsel … Read More
  • March 11, 2015 – Never let ‘em see you sweat – Maintaining a calm, confident, even-keeled professional demeanor comes naturally, or at least appears to come naturally, to the most successful inside counsel. I marvel when I see this trait displayed so consistently over a long period of time … Read More
  • February 12, 2015 – Succeeding in an anti-lawyer corporate culture – Not every general counsel is a highly-paid senior executive at a Fortune 500 company reporting directly to a CEO. I speak routinely with GCs who work for privately held, often family-run, companies with revenue of $1B or less … Read More
  • January 13, 2015 – I’m completely bullish on 2015 – Well, this may be one of the shorter columns I have ever written. I’m guessing you won’t mind — given the message: The macro conditions for law department growth have never been better. … Read More
  • December 9, 2014 – The path for GCs to serving on corporate boards – We have been fielding some inquiries, mainly from semi-retired general counsel, about opportunities to serve on corporate boards of directors. I refer these calls to one of many recruiters who focus on that work. But I do write this career advice column, and I find the topic quite interesting. … Read More
  • November 10, 2014 – Interviewing 101: Don’t be the “open kimono” interviewee – To be clear, I never recommend lying in an interview. The risk of a lie backfiring is high, and of course it’s just plain wrong. Yet, many very bad interviews come down to the use of extreme honesty … Read More
  • October 7, 2014 – The best relationships are built offline – I was in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 26 to participate on a panel discussion of social media use for networking and career development. My thanks to the ACC/Kentucky chapter for the invitation. … Read More
  • September 3, 2014 – The public is your client, too – I followed the Senate’s hearings on General Motors with great interest. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, GM’s general counsel Michael Millikin said this at one of the hearings: “We had lawyers at GM who didn’t do their jobs.” At least three senior GM attorneys have been fired … Read More
  • August 1, 2014 – Pivoting your career back to a law firm – A personal friend of mine was just laid off from a Fortune 500 law department in the aftermath of what has to be honestly labeled a power struggle. While in-house positions are generally secure — indeed, that is one of the strong selling points for going in-house — surprises occur … Read More
  • July 7, 2014 – The power reference: Get your foot in the door – 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 more proactive and strategic reference can help you long before an offer … Read More
  • June 9, 2014 – What’s hot? Take a look at compliance jobs – At last month’s IC SuperConference, I had the pleasure of connecting in-person with many of our readers. It’s an annual treat for me. It also served as a reminder that most attorneys really have just one primary question for recruiters: “What’s hot?” … Read More
  • May 7, 2014 – 4 tips for maximizing your LinkedIn profile – LinkedIn is no longer an optional platform. If you like phrases like tipping point or critical mass, then let me assure you that use of LinkedIn by recruiters and employers blew beyond those thresholds a long time ago. And if you are actively interviewing for a position, expect that every interviewer will check out your LinkedIn profile … Read More
  • April 8, 2014 – Diversity: Going further and changing culture – I challenge white corporate leaders to think differently. On May 14, I will moderate a panel at InsideCounsel’s SuperConference titled, “Beyond Diversity: Creating Corporate Culture.” The panel will include multiple legal leaders — Maria Green, Martin Montes, and David Rawlinson — who have kindly agreed to share their thoughts on creating inclusive cultures … Read More
  • March 3, 2014 – Receiving top leadership training for inside counsel – After Alfreda Bradley-Coar graduated from General Electric’s new manager development course as a mid-level inside counsel some years ago, she was so inspired that she went on to get her MBA. Alfreda is now … Read More
  • January 27, 2014 – Selling the goal of longevity in hiring – In speaking with a number of general counsel about their hiring, retention, and talent management plans for 2014, I recognize an opportunity for law departments that want to attract great attorneys regardless of compensation … Read More
  • December 10, 2013 – General counsel advice on increasing your boardroom presence – Let’s first define what we mean by boardroom presence, as this is an essential quality companies seek when making a senior level hire. We are talking about business maturity, confidence … Read More
  • September 25, 2013 – Leading a law department, the inside scoop – Many general counsel are great lawyers and boardroom consiglieres but struggle when it comes to leading the many personalities that make up any sizable law department. A few micromanage with an iron fist while, more commonly, others … Read More
  • August 29, 2013 – To get hired, listen up – I asked our experts, “When hiring for your department, what are the two most important personal character traits you seek in a candidate?” … Read More
  • July 24, 2013 – The path to the big chair – “If you were to offer one tip or piece of advice for a mid-level inside counsel who aspires to sit in the general counsel chair eventually, what would it be?” … Read More
  • June 21, 2013 – Managing your boss – When inside counsel call our firm to ask about new opportunities, we often hear some version of “I don’t like my boss” as the key motivator for seeking a move. The more vocal this complaint gets, the more likely it becomes that we will see multiple employer changes over a short period of time… Read More
  • May 13, 2013 – Women in the C-Suite – A general business publication named Crain’s ran an article recently about the very small percentage of women holding CEO, CFO and lead business development titles. Crain’s pointed out the notable exception: Women are entering the executive ranks (or the C-Suite) via general counsel positions. … Read More
  • April 2, 2013 – Break beyond your specialty niche – A majority of our searches are, in fact, subject matter specific requests. Please get us a great securities, IP or ERISA attorney, etc. Subject matter experts do hit ceilings once in-house, however. In many of the larger legal departments… Read More
  • March 11, 2013 – Maintain control of your career when the unexpected strikes – …And I thought about the kind of phone call I get once or twice every month. It’s a call for help from an attorney who has been laid off but truly did not see it coming. … Read More
  • February 4, 2013 – The art of GC peer networking – Many general counsel crave peer-level networking. They want private opinions on how to handle sensitive situations, and they do seek recommendations on best practices and outside services. … Read More
  • January 14, 2013 – Prediction: 2013 will be the year the associate dies – At the largest firms in big markets like New York, Chicago and San Francisco, we still see a pyramid structure in which associates outnumber partners (though barely). …Read More
  • December 12, 2012 – Truly helpful reference checking – The vast majority of reference check calls should really be labeled validation calls. Once you have selected a winner, you have a few pleasant conversations with folks who will offer comforting, and hopefully enthusiastic, thumbs up on the candidate …Read More
  • November 26, 2012 – 3 keys to landing an inside counsel freelance job – Last month I suggested five tips for using inside counsel freelancers. Now it’s time to flip the coin and offer advice for inside counsel who wish to freelance. If you are really looking for traditional employment, then this is the wrong column for you. …Read More
  • October 18, 2012 – 5 tips for using inside counsel freelancers – Law department talent models continue to evolve in response to the question so often posed at inside counsel conferences: “How can general counsel handle increasing compliance requirements and other legal needs, while meeting stricter budgetary goals?” … Read More
  • September 17, 2012 – Legal departments resist virtual offices – I was wrong. For almost 20 years, I had been predicting a true shift away from corporate headquarter (HQ) offices. I believed that virtual and home-based officing would become the norm for a majority of inside counsel. The pros of virtual officing seemed so obvious to me… Read More
  • August 9, 2012 – Treat yourself to some free time – I’ve discussed the importance of extracurricular activities such as conference networking, article writing and pro bono efforts. Those columns fall within a category some may view as eating your professional vegetables. …Read More
  • July 12, 2012 - 5 tips for employers when hiring an out-of-town candidate – Many of our firm’s search assignments involve geographic relocation, often to small markets with one major Fortune 500 employer. … we’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out who is willing to pull the trigger on such a major life change. …Read More
  • June 14, 2012 – Job security for life - In the wake of another major law firm collapse, I’m getting more calls than ever from associates and partners who crave the “job security” of working for a corporate law department. I put job security in quotes because I think the concept is widely misunderstood within the legal profession. …Read More

Advice for General Counsel

Advice on Climbing the Ladder

Advice on Making a Move

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General Counsel Profiles