HP, Pfizer Hiring GCs Straight out of Law School to Cut Costs

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 16, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Where does your company find its staff of general counsels? Law school?

Maybe not, as many companies recruit their classes of general counsels from law firms.

Some companies, however, are now making a shift towards recruiting associates directly from law school. These companies are frustrated with paying high rates for inexperienced associates, according to The Wall Street Journal. Why do that when you can train your new staff of general counsels yourself?

Hewlett-Packard is one of the companies that is making this shift. Pfizer is too, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Typically, HP used to recruit general counsels with 5-7 years of experience. Pfizer similarly aimed to recruit attorneys with at least 7 years of experience, The Wall Street Journal reports. Both companies hired recent law school grads to staff their legal departments.

The new grads, however, must be trained. HP aims to cross-train their new attorneys with some of its outside law firms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The in house counsel positions undoubtedly provide good opportunities for law students to get their foot into the door of the corporate legal world. But, is it a good idea for more businesses to make this kind of shift?

Maybe, if the business is as well-established as HP or Pfizer. These companies possess resources and the ability to train new grads. Companies can mold these fresh grads into the type of general counsel they desire. And, they can pay a lower salary compared to a salary for an attorney with multiple years of experience.

But, while finding general counsels in law schools may be great for some businesses, for some it's simply impractical. Smaller businesses may simply lack the resources to train new grads. So, while it may be alluring to be able to cut costs by hiring straight out of law school, for some businesses this may simply be out of reach.

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