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Career Advice Columns

Mike's latest column on Law.com

Latest Column

Play Offense with Your Career

The toughest part of playing offense is looking in the mirror and being truthful with yourself. Are you “politically in favor” and ascending? Or are you running in place?

Mike Evers

Mike Evers is the Career Advice Columnist for Corporate Counsel Magazine

Mike is available for speaking and press engagements. Learn more.

Corporate Counsel Columns 2024

    • March 1, 2024

      Play Offense with Your Career

      The toughest part of playing offense is looking in the mirror and being truthful with yourself. Are you “politically in favor” and ascending? Or are you running in place?

    • Feb. 1, 2024

      AI’S Blueprint for Hiring Your Next General Counsel

      I’ve been playing with ChatGPT. I asked the AI tool to list its best practices for companies to follow when hiring a General Counsel. It’s actually a pretty good starting point. The only thing missing from the list is “Hire a Search Firm.”

    • Jan. 2, 2024

      Looking for Your Dream Job? Don’t Follow Your Heart

      Following your heart, in the context of one’s career, usually translates into: “I should be happy at work, and I should move if I’m not.” Getting to a dream attorney job includes, unfortunately, a lot of dues paying and long hours. Following your heart tends to turn into an excuse for job hopping.

Corporate Counsel Columns 2023

    • Dec. 4, 2023

      2024 to Upend the Salary Applecart

      The recent drama involving OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft caught my attention not only for the entertaining corporate governance drama…it also got me thinking about compensation.

    • Nov. 1, 2023

      Top 5 Traits of Great General Counsel from a Legal Recruiter (PDF)

      What follows is observational, based on 20+ years recruiting for corporate law departments. In my opinion, here are the top 5 traits needed to become a great General Counsel. (Read it on law.com here)

    • Oct. 4, 2023

      Year-end Hiring in 2023

      Year-end hiring, or “Q4 placement” as search firms refer to it, is always tricky. But 2023 presents an additional challenge.

    • Sept. 5, 2023

      Celebrating General Counsel Compensation

      I love this annual list of Fortune 1000 general counsel compensation that Corporate Counsel puts together. Mainly because it validates the value of the role. But also, I enjoy celebrating the success of many people on this list who I have the good fortune to know.

    • Aug. 1, 2023

      Hiring a “Job Hopper”

      In this article, I share my guidance for legal departments considering candidates with a lot of movement.

    • July 5, 2023

      The Gift of Free Time

      This will go down as one of those touchy-feely columns. No advice here that will help you land a promotion. But this will prove to be a worthwhile read if I can convince you to turn off the all-consuming phone for real chunks of time this summer.

    • June 1, 2023

      Let’s Talk About Titles: Tips From a Legal Recruiter

      Smart in-house counsel knows that whatever lawyer title he or she gets, what really matters in corporate America is the grade level title. This is especially true at publicly traded companies.

    • May 1, 2023

      Top 5 Updated LinkedIn Tips From a Legal Recruiter

      As to why LinkedIn matters, use of LinkedIn by recruiters for primary sourcing is a given. And if you are actively interviewing for a position, expect that every interviewer will check out your LinkedIn profile. But don’t just think of LinkedIn as job change related. It’s a vehicle for creating your personal brand and maintaining an online professional presence.

    • April 3, 2023

      AI vs LawWorld, Cage Match Pending

      Goldman Sachs predicts that artificial intelligence will disrupt 44% of legal jobs. While no one is suggesting that four out of ten lawyers will be replaced by technology advances, make no mistake: companies prefer fewer lawyers to more lawyers, and corporate counsel should prepare for the future accordingly.

    • March 1, 2023

      Are You Underpaid?

      You are inheriting 10 attorneys, including three direct reports. Two of your direct reports were qualified for your job, but the CEO wanted to go outside for new leadership. Welcome to Day One. Here are ten tips for general counsels in this situation.

    • Feb. 1, 2023

      Top 10 Tips for a New General Counsel

      Did your 2023 salary increase outpace inflation? Or do you feel as though you are running in place on the compensation treadmill? Many inside counsel feel underpaid. But are you?

    • Jan. 6, 2023

      The General Counsel Vibe

      Positivity is absolutely a leadership quality. It’s needed to earn the respect and trust of CEOs, direct reports, internal clients, and even outside service providers. Naysayers, negative Nancys, and cynics get weeded out and don’t sit in the GC chair.

Corporate Counsel Columns 2022

    • Dec. 5, 2022

      A Time for Opportunistic Hiring

      Consider calling your favorite recruiter and asking for an assessment of available talent. See if there is an opportunity for your law department to make a great hire.

    • Nov. 3, 2022

      Get Your Extra-Curriculars: The Importance of Building Your Personal Brand

      The pandemic pushed networking online, which is a poor venue for relationship building. Let’s welcome back the many benefits of in-person professional events!

    • Oct. 4, 2022

      The Hurricane Career Path

      The way to keep your career from blowing off course is to stay true to your gut and by taking the jobs you know you will enjoy. Don’t let what you can’t control dictate your next move.

    • Sept. 8, 2022

      To Commute or Not To Commute, That Is the Question

      Where once offices used to be a take-it-or-leave it given, now it is front and center as more of a give and take.

    • Aug. 1, 2022

      Breaking Beyond Your Specialty Niche

      Many of our search assignments are subject matter specific. Please get us a great securities, or IP, or employment attorney, etc. Subject-matter experts do hit ceilings, however. In many of the larger legal departments, the top of the ladder for specialists is a senior role reporting to the general counsel.

    • June 28, 2022

      Hiring in a Whiplash Economy—What Does This Mean for Your Law Department?

      Staff level postings (counsel and senior counsel) remain at record levels. I know most of you are not finding the candidate quality you seek at the salary point your HR department has authorized. Because wage inflation within the legal profession has outpaced internal equity considerations.

    • May 4, 2022

      From Courtship to Offer: How to Manage Expectations in the Recruitment Process

      If you don’t have a good recruiter to help walk the right couple to the altar, here are a few pro tips for managing expectations.

    • April 5, 2022

      The Bias in Comfort Hiring

      Let’s all challenge ourselves to place a higher value on life experiences that differ from our own. Differences can drive cultural change and growth.

    • March 4, 2022

      The Importance of Compensation Transparency

      While the current state of affairs is making life frustrating for general counsels who need to add staff, it really is a wonderful development for in-house compensation.

    • Jan. 31, 2022

      In-House To and From a Law Firm Has Become a Revolving Door

      The unwritten rule was that later-in-career attorneys could not return to a law firm. Now, returning to law firm land is common.

    • Jan. 4, 2022

      2022 Tips for Hiring a Senior Counsel

      The most common in-house opening by title is Senior Counsel, and, since most companies prefer to hire attorneys with in-house experience, you are all competing for the same talent. Here are my four best practices for meeting this hiring challenge.

Corporate Counsel Columns 2021

    • Dec. 1, 2021

      A House for Every Dog

      Hiring an attorney with relevant experience who really wants the job over an attorney with shinier credentials is not settling. It’s embracing the right match.

      Nov. 9, 2021

      Turnover at the Top

      Even if your current General Counsel has only been with the company for a few years and is not close to retirement age, don’t assume he or she is never leaving.

    • Oct. 4, 2021

      Looking For a New Job? Here Are Some Resume Best Practices

      “What does my potential employer want?” If you keep this question in mind, your résumé will take on a tone of client service and flexibility.

    • Sept. 7, 2021

      ‘Happy’ Law Firm Associates Disrupt In-House Hiring

      Law departments are experiencing the tightest labor market in memory, and I have an observational theory on why.

    • Aug 3, 2021

      Cyber Literacy is the New MBA

      The most important element of any general counsel’s job description remains as simple as this: Protect The Company.

    • July 7, 2021

      Five Tips for Maximizing LinkedIn

      Putting your best foot forward on LinkedIn is not time consuming, but you should do it thoughtfully and purposefully.

    • June 1, 2021

      Benchmark Your Way to a Raise

      Do better benchmarking homework than your employer. It costs nothing, and it may convince your boss or HR to consider current apples-to-apples information.

    • May 5, 2021

      It’s Getting Harder to Talk About Past Compensation

      Bottom-line: I think we are about to see a trend away from disclosure, at least at the early stage of an application.

    • March 25, 2021

      Good Cop (CEO), Bad Cop (CFO) Interviews

      General Counsel candidates interview with only one ultimate decision-maker: the CEO. If the CEO has her mind set on a particular choice, then that person will be the winner.

    • March 3, 2021

      “I’m not going back”

      While the downside of mostly-Zoom days is well chronicled, the forced change into working from home has led a large number of you to focus on how you really feel about your job.

    • Feb. 5, 2021

      Pandemic Bias in Hiring

      While working from home at this stage in the pandemic is still widely accepted, companies have a bias in favor of candidates who are willing to interview in-person when making an important senior level hire.

    • Jan. 6, 2021

      Winning at the Interview

      Interviewing is a competitive sport. Play to win.

      • Corporate Counsel Columns 2020

        Dec. 1, 2020

        Career Advice Going into 2021? Never Let Them See Your 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.

      • Nov. 12, 2020

        Want to Up Your Job Search Game? Hyperlink It!

        Attorneys are not digital animators or marketing gurus who are expected to get creative with resume styles and content. But you can, and in my opinion should, up your game with one simple tip: use hyperlinks.

      • Oct. 5, 2020

        Diversity is Not Socially Distanced

        Diversity in hiring is suffering from social distancing, Mike Evers writes. He encourages general counsel and human resources leaders to double down on their commitment to sourcing candidates thoroughly and creatively.

      • Sept. 3, 2020

        The All Zoom Hire

        It took six months into the pandemic for our firm to close on an “all Zoom hire.” Meaning: At no point did the new placement, now an assistant general counsel for a financial services company, walk into our client’s HQ facility or meet with her new boss.

      • June 17, 2020

        Rainmaking for In-House Lawyers: Tips on How to be Valuable to Your Company

        It is tempting to sit tight and wait out the proverbial storm. Resist that temptation. Show your fire in the belly. Be heard and be valuable!

      • May 7, 2020

        Hire a Terrific In-House Lawyer Now

        This month’s column is intended to serve as a reminder that hiring indeed continues, and some of the needs are pressing.

      • April 20, 2020

        Video Interview Tips Specifically for In-House Counsel

        To be clear, we all absolutely HATE video interviewing. Outside recruiters like me, internal HR folks, and especially the actual hiring manager CEOs and GCs … none of us want this. And so a strong preference to wait for the traditional process has become an added reason, beyond macro conditions, to kick the hiring can down the road.

      • March 5, 2020

        Your Value in Times of Uncertainty

        Your company likely already has a crisis plan ready if needed. But be the leader who goes the extra mile to do something lawyers do really well: issue spot.

      • February 06, 2020

        Drawing Attention to Black GC List 2025

        The list of GC-ready candidates is impressive, and hopefully the folks behind the scenes at this initiative are pushing the list directly to CEOs, EVPs of HR, and even board members.

      • January 08, 2020

        2030 Vision: In-House Counsel’s Role Will Grow

        I am stealing Heather’s title from Corporate Counsel’s January cover (“2020 Vision”), but with a twist of chutzpah. I am going to share my predictions of what in-house careers will look like in 2030.

    Corporate Counsel Columns 2019

        • December 03, 2019

          Know When to Shut Up and Listen

          I realize that career advice columns often boil down to a variation on the phrase, “use common sense.” Yet, I was reminded recently that some lawyers can make $800,000 and fail to practice that concept.

        • November 04, 2019

          Think Career Security, Not Job Security

          Career security is about access to decision-makers, and your inside counsel counterparts control millions of dollars in outside counsel spend.

        • October 02, 2019

          3 Easy Steps to a LinkedIn Black Belt

          Failing to maximize your LinkedIn presence constitutes personal professional negligence.

        • September 09, 2019

          Zombie Apocalypse Preparation

          I have no idea what is coming around the bend. No one ever really does; they just have opinions. Can an in-house lawyer prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse just in case? Answer: Yes, especially if you don’t focus on and stress out about job security.

        • August 08, 2019

          Go Around Human Resources

          Let’s say you want to join the fictitious in-house legal department at Acme Corp. Either Acme has an active opening in its legal department, or it does not. What follows is a “how to” approach for each scenario.

        • July 15, 2019

          Tips When Hiring Nonlocal Lawyers

          We’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out who is willing to pull the trigger on such a major life change. That assessment is just as important as matching credentials and culture fit. I painfully recall losing a client 15 years ago (FifthThird Bank) when one of our recruits got cold feet about moving to Cincinnati, after he had accepted the position.

        • June 04, 2019

          What’s the Best Fit for Startups? The Entrepreneurial GC

          I love working on in-house positions with startups, especially first general counsel hires. And recent work has emphasized a request we often hear from clients in fast growth mode: “Get us candidates who are entrepreneurial.”

        • May 08, 2019

          Play Offense With Your Career

          Always know where you stand, and be honest with yourself about where you stand.

        • April 04, 2019

          The Weed GC: Culture Fit Matters

          I just took my search firm’s first order within the cannabis industry, a general counsel role for a leading grower of legal marijuana. Interest in the role is high (OK, the puns are easy!), but I’ve already rejected one of my favorite candidates.

        • March 07, 2019

          It’s Hiring Season! Now Is the Best Time to Find Talent

          March through June is the most active window for recruiting at the professional level generally across disciplines.

        • February 06, 2019

          Street Lawyering at Your Company—It’s Really Not a Bad Idea

          Wills, divorces, consumer credit problems, landlord disputes and traffic violations all have two things in common. One, handling such matters is firmly outside your job description. Two, if you are in-house with a large company, your rank and file co-workers in the field are dealing with personal legal issues such as these all the time.

        • January 08, 2019

          In-House Counsel: Become a ‘Yes, And’ Businessperson in the New Year

          Whatever word we use to describe what you do for a living, however, here is what nonlawyer clients tend to hear: NO. At many companies, the prevailing view of the law department is still a hybrid of traffic cop and bureaucrat.

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