Recruiters List the Resume Essentials for GC Wannabes
Risk takers with transactional experience are in high demand for few openings in-house
Katheryn Hayes Tucker
Fulton County Daily Report
For corporations looking for lawyers, it’s a buyer’s market, so they can be picky about who gets in-house legal jobs.
"Everybody wants to go in-house," said Raj M. Nichani, vice president of Hughes & Sloan Inc., a 19-year-old Atlanta-based legal search firm. "There are not enough jobs."
“每个人都想进到内部来，职位却不够。” Hughes & Sloan 公司副董事长Raj M. Nichani说。 Hughes & Sloan 公司是一家拥有19年历史的法律猎头公司，总部设在亚特兰大。
Four other legal recruiters confirmed this assessment, noting that while law firm jobs are plentiful, in-house positions make up less than 10 percent of the openings they fill but attract 15 to 20 extremely well-qualified applicants for each one.
What the recruiters have noticed over the years is that lawyers with certain types of skill sets -- and mind-sets -- tend to land the in-house posts.
Based on conversations with these recruiters -- Nichani; Bob Graff of Major, Lindsey & Africa; Richard Rice of The Partners Group; Becca Newton of NewtonHarris Executive Legal Placement; and Melba Hughes of Hughes Consultants -- here are some indicators that lawyers have the right stuff to succeed in-house.
与这些招聘人员——包括Nichani、Lindsey & Africa公司的鲍勃?格拉夫、The Partners Group的理查德?赖斯、Newton Harris Executive Legal Placement的比卡?牛顿以及Hughes Consultants公司的梅尔巴?休斯——的谈话明显表明律师们有恰当的素质来接替内部职位。
1. The right transactional experience. "The first thing we obviously look for in a GC are his or her legal skills," said Hughes. "I think most of the GC’s that we’ve placed have come from a corporate securities background." They may have been an in-house corporate counsel or an outside counsel, but they were already doing the required work. "It depends on the company. If you place a GC with a real estate company, they’re going to want real estate transactional experience," said Hughes.
Said Graff: "We do a lot of general counsel searches every year, and 90 percent to 95 percent of those we place are existing GCs at another company. Even smaller companies want a GC who already has GC experience. They rarely come from law firms -- unless they are acting as outside counsel for the company. ... If they’re getting a search firm involved and they’re going to pay us a big fat fee, they want us to find what they’re looking for. They never want to pay us a fee to find someone who’s going to grow into the job."
2. The right values. This would depend upon the match between company and attorney, but generally would require a certain level of personal development, particularly for the GC. "When you think about a general counsel, the highest legal officer of a company, it’s a prerequisite to have maturity, judgment, vision and leadership skills," said Hughes.
3. Sarbanes-Oxley Act knowledge. "The majority of GC searches want Sarbanes-Oxley experience -- even if they’re not public -- because going public might be a strategy. The board members are worried about liability," said Graff. "The GC is the one they look to to keep them out of trouble. Nobody wants to wear striped pajamas."
4. The right management skills. In-house lawyers take on responsibilities for a staff if they have one. "They’re part of a small team and they have to be able to delegate," said Nichani. "In-house, there are so many things going on, you can’t micromanage."
"It’s difficult to find somebody right out of a law firm that has budget experience," said Hughes. "Have you ever fired anybody? Have you ever hired anybody? Do you have a track record of developing subordinates?"
5. Litigation stars need not apply. In-house lawyers do not try cases, and they naturally want to stay out of court. If they have to be there, they use outside counsel for litigation. "Of the people I know who are star litigators, I don’t think it has ever come up that they want to go in-house," said Nichani.
6. Willingness to accept a hefty pay cut. "Compensation is not as good in-house," said Rice. "They have to be willing to take a significant cut in pay." Nichani said he is seeing salaries for mid-level in-house lawyers in the $120,000 to $140,000 range, but he thinks they should be in the $150,000 to $180,000 range. (Alston & Bird and King & Spalding, for example, said recently that first-year associates in Atlanta will start making $145,000 next year.)
There are other rewards to consider, such as stock options, bonuses and possibly improved hours. But ... see number 7.
7. Willingness to accept more responsibility. While the hours of an in-house job might be more predictable -- taking kids to school or having dinner with their family is easier to plan -- the pressure might be greater. "A lot of the time, associates assume they’re going to have an easier schedule and a quality-of-life change for the better. The fact that they don’t keep a time sheet is appealing, but it’s a different sort of pressure," said Newton. "If you’re somebody who wants to cut back and not work as hard going in-house, you’re probably not the right candidate."
8. Interest in the business. Learning the business -- and taking a genuine interest in it -- is a key to success for a GC. "The more people can educate themselves and understand how the company is set up -- where the revenues are, the employees, the size, learn the business -- the more effective they’re going to be," said Newton. "You don’t have to have an MBA, but you need to understand the nuts and bolts of how the company works."
9. Willingness to take risks. Corporations sometimes go out of business, downsize or have trouble paying their bills. Rice said one reason some of the people he has placed in-house have called him back is that they’ve been laid off. Candidates should do their homework on the company. "A lot of attorneys who have a desire to go in-house haven’t thought it through."
10. Ability to get along with all sorts of people. "A law firm is not going to hire an outright jerk," said Graff, adding that if an attorney can bring in a lot of revenue, "the definition of jerk might not be as strict." It’s different in-house, where the GC must work with every department, other managers and their staffs as well as CEOs and board members. Here, an engaging personality is valuable. As Graff put it, "If your outside lawyer is a jerk, it’s not as big a problem as if your in-house lawyer is a jerk."
But the bottom line is that many in-house lawyers do great work and seem very happy, the recruiters agreed. "My personal opinion, over the last 10 years, is that a lot of the best legal work is done in-house. They can pick and chose what they do and what they send to outside counsel," said Graff. "And I think people like being closer to the deals. They like having a seat at the table."