What Companies Want When Shopping for In-House Counsel
When companies are looking to hire in-house counsel, apart from the actual stated requirements of the job, there'll usually be a couple other highly desirable characteristics. Highlighting these personality traits and characteristics on your resume, or during an interview, can potentially give you a leg up over other applicants, assuming all other things are equal.
Generally, these qualities are geared toward going beyond the requirements of the job to focus on whether an in-house counsel will be a good fit, professionally and culturally. It can be challenging to "show" these on a resume or during an interview, rather than just saying them. Try to think of brief examples that highlight these traits, and work those examples into your resume or canned interview answers.
Below, you can read about a few of these highly desired traits.
The Business Mindset
If you appear knowledgeable about the company's business, and have experience successfully working in the industry, or a related industry, this can truly be a deciding factor, especially for smaller companies. Even if you don't have specific industry experience, related business experience can be used to show that you are business minded.
If a potential employer believes you can meet the requirements and that you'll be able to help grow the business (and grow with the business), you'll likely be a shoe in.
Strong Professional and Social Legal Connections
Finally, those pointless memberships to those pointless associations that hold pointless networking events will pay off (maybe it's not all pointless). Companies want their attorneys to have strong ties to the legal community and practicing attorneys. Having a large and dependable legal network can be great for an employer because you will be able to call on your network when issues arise that you cannot address without at least a consult from a colleague. Also, this can be helpful if you are tasked with selecting outside counsel. This saves you time, and the company money.
Aptitude for Learning
As a litigation or in-house attorney, keeping abreast of legal developments as statutes are passed and cases handed down is important. However, in-house counsel also must keep up to date in the company's industry. As new technologies or best practices emerge, in-house counsel must be ready to adapt.
Showing a potential employer that you have the aptitude to learn and apply new concepts successfully can instill confidence in the potential employer that you will be able to adapt as the world keeps turning, the company grows, and your role changes.
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