What Does it Take to Be an In-House Lawyer? — Tips From a Recruiter

Source: Bloomberg BNA

By Sara Gates

Deborah Ben-Canaan, partner at recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, LLC, laid out some tips for attorneys looking to make the plunge in-house — a market she called "very robust right now."

"There are a lot of companies hiring and a lot of candidates looking," said Ben-Canaan, in a recent interview.

Among other things, Canaan said that associates years four to six are the most marketable for an in-house move, and that recently, companies have been looking to hire lawyers to fill positions in their international compliance divisions.

Download MLA's 2015 In-House Counsel Compensation Report Below are some of her comments.

The Best Time to Make the Move

“The lesson is, if you want to go in-house [from a law firm], go in-house during years four to six," Ben-Canaan told Big Law Business. "Years four to six are the most marketable times for a law associate to move in-house. They have enough experience at that point to work independently."

Yet, they are not too expensive, Ben-Canaan added, noting that that's the reason why it is more difficult for attorneys to go in-house after they make partner. Oftentimes, attorneys may have to take a pay cut in order to take an in-house position. But, the decrease in compensation may be offset by equity options.

What Are Hiring Executives Looking For?

At the associate level, hiring executives may be looking for two different types of candidates — either a seasoned associate who can handle general business matters or a junior associate with a particular specialty (for example, a fourth year corporate securities attorney). At the general counsel level, hiring executives prefer attorneys who have already worked in-house.

"Once you get up to the general counsel level, it's more about gravitas and emotional intelligence," Ben-Canaan said, adding that the "chemistry with the CEO becomes critical."

Read more of this feature at Bloomberg BNA Big Law Business.

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