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Often, when lawyers are considering moving in house, their searches are narrowly tailored to private corporations. However, there is a surprising amount of work available in the nonprofit sector for in house attorneys.
Generally, when lawyers think about nonprofit lawyer jobs, we think staff attorney positions that focus on serving underserved communities. But, like corporations, as nonprofit organizations grow, the need for in house attorneys and general counsel grows. Also, people often seem to forget that some hospitals, many schools, and nearly all foundations and charitable organizations, from massive to miniature, have compliance and other legal duties.
Below, you can read about three reasons why in house job seekers should consider focusing on nonprofit employers.
1. Positive Impact
For in house attorneys, one of the major gripes of the job is that feeling of just being a cog in the greater machine, never really feeling like you're making an impact in your own community by helping your widget making, or doodad servicing, company stay out of legal trouble.
If you went to law school to make a difference and then wound up stuck in some in house corporate law department, moving over to a nonprofit's in house department could inject that meaning that's been missing from your work.
2. You Yearn
Do you yearn to do more? Well, being able to satisfy those yearnings by wearing many hats may be one of the perks of nonprofit work, particularly at a smaller nonprofit. In addition to the role of compliance officer, you may find yourself advising other department heads like a GC, and there may be quite a bit of room to advance as the organization grows and it seeks to promote internally first.
3. It's Still Better Than Litigation
For new lawyers or those looking to transition from a non-in-house/GC field, getting your feet wet and finding your sea legs in nonprofit is an attractive prospect, after all, it's probably still better than litigation.
While many of the needs of for- and nonprofits differ, there is overlap, as well as potential future career opportunities particularly if you're in a position to network with other corporate legal departments at social functions.