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in-house legal jobs
10 min read

Job Hunting? Read These Tips for In-house Legal

We’re in a time of uncertainty. Many talented people are looking for a new job and the next step in their careers. Rise to the top of the in-house legal candidate pool by exploring what you want in your next role, identifying the best opportunities, and avoiding common interview mistakes. 

What Legal Leaders Are Looking For

Put yourself in the hiring team’s shoes. When in-house lawyers need to fill a role on their team (corporate counsel, AGC, director of legal, etc.), you have a basic understanding of the work they need to get done from the job description. But beyond your expertise, differentiate yourself by being curious about the company and the problems they’re trying to solve. 

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s some insight from top legal leaders: 

Andy Dale, General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer at Alyce, put it perfectly in this LinkedIn post describing that, “So many people just want to go in-house - they don't think about what type of company they want to be in. When I ask, they say things like "tech" or "I'm open to anything". I encourage them to focus on companies, verticals, or sectors they LOVE or are really interested in. To me, it's absolutely critical that I be in a company where I believe in the mission, market, product, etc. It makes me a WAY better lawyer. And I'm happier.” PSA: If you’re not following Andy on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on great advice. 

Tim Parilla, Chief Legal Officer at LinkSquares, shared one of his favorite interview questions on Cockpit Counsel and added, "People have an idea of what the legal issue is, but maybe not a full idea of better ways to solve the problem. So there's this inquisitive nature that you have to carry with you.” To hear the full interview question, check out this episode of Cockpit Counsel and skip to minute 8:30. 

Ari Buchler, advisor, investor, and business leader, signed off on his episode of Cockpit Counsel with a story about staying curious, closing by saying that “If you're constantly looking for ways to really grow yourself, the interesting jobs will come your way.”

Many times someone doesn't have the exact skills for the role, but if they show they're curious, a hard worker, a quick learner, and a good people person, hiring managers will take a chance. You're sure to stand out from the rest when you combine your legal skillset with genuine curiosity and a problem-solving attitude. 

Finding Your Next Role

Legal Networking 

Now, let’s get looking. First things first, network, network, network. Some of the best candidates come through employee referrals. Check out this blog post with industry groups to join and legal leaders to connect with and follow on LinkedIn. 

Speaking of LinkedIn – be sure to post that you're looking for a job. You’d be surprised how many people in your network will come through with roles to refer you to. Plus, even if you don't have an "in" with the legal department at a company on your radar, your other connections at the company can make the intro. A referral from a trusted business partner is huge for an-in house legal team.

Lastly, if you’re interested in joining virtual networking nights that LinkSquares hosts, email mcurtin@linksquares.com to be added to our list. 

Finding Open Legal Roles 

In addition, check out these job boards: 

  • GoInhouse.com is focused solely on in-house counsel jobs in the United States
  • Lawcrossing.com offers legal jobs and career opportunities from every legal industry in the US
  • Jobline.acc.com is a great place to both explore job opportunities and network 

Don’t forget about legal recruiters, another great resource. 

We can’t miss the opportunity to highlight ourselves. LinkSquares is hiring! Check out our careers page to learn more about exciting opportunities. 

Avoid These Interview Mistakes 

When you’re clear on what you’re looking for and have scored an interview, here are four common mistakes. 

  • Sending in a cluttered or extremely long resume. Sending a long or cluttered resume sends a message that you lack proper communication skills. Given how much legal communication is in writing, it's a true test of your ability here. Often one of the keys to good writing is what you leave out rather than what you put in. Keep it concise and highlight your most relevant experience. 
  • Not sending thank you notes to other members of the legal team outside the hiring manager. Be sure to thank everyone that you talk to. Hiring managers will ask around to see if other team members got thank you notes. Even if it's roughly the same note but slightly tailored, it helps show you're excited about the role and that you have good EQ (emotional intelligence). 
  • Not having done research on the company. In-house legal work requires a lot of fast learning and understanding of business relationships. If you're not able to speak to what the company you're applying to does at a sufficient level, that’s a red flag. 
  • Coming in with a misconception that working in-house is going to be "easier" than at a law firm. Work ethic is very important to an in-house team. It's a big turn-off if a candidate thinks an in-house role is going to be a walk in the park. Particularly for folks coming in from law firms or large legal teams. Make sure you understand the expectations. In-house legal teams do work long hours, the pace can be faster, the legal issues just as challenging, and there are often more internal dynamics at play to navigate.

You’ve got this! Good luck and be sure to subscribe to our blog for more in-house legal career advice. 

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Alyssa Verzino is a Content Marketing Manager at LinkSquares.