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Getting hired as an in-house attorney is not a simple task, especially for lawyers without any experience as an in-house attorney. But, with a little effort, and some artful wording on a resume, it is possible.
For those with no experience, and even recent grads, the tips below can help put you in a better position to go in house.
If you made it through law school and become a lawyer without ever holding any other jobs, then you'll likely need to just skip to numbers 2 and 3 below. If you've had other jobs, look at what you were doing at those jobs through your newly acquired lawyer's mindset. If you worked in an office, created reports, reported to a manager, or had others reporting to you, you likely had to engage in some forms of legal compliance, even if it wasn't called that. Even food servers have to engage in legal compliance (reporting tips). Stress that experience from another job (though you probably want to avoid claiming reporting tips as a waiter qualifies you for an in-house compliance job).
Also, skills are transferable. If you've mastered litigation and now want to move in house, draft your resume to highlight resource management and other litigation skills that would be desirable given the responsibilities of the sought after position.
While there are some employers that offer comprehensive training to new in-house attorneys, they would all prefer if you already knew what you were doing, or could at least look like it. Find as many free or not too costly CLEs that relate to the field you want to enter and take them.
Go to networking events with in-house attorneys and try to meet someone who will let you ask a million questions or maybe even shadow them. Offering to help attorneys for free, particularly if you are clear that you are not looking for a job from them, will usually be well received if you are polite and persistent. If you are diligent, it could turn into a regular thing, and even a recommendation, or reference.
Networking can truly be the je ne sais quoi of getting hired. It is illusive. Meeting the right people, at the right time is as much about persistence than it is skill or luck. Yes, you have to know how to be polite and social. Yes, you have to have the skills needed to perform the job. And, worst of all, yes, you have to show up to every miserable networking event you can physically stomach and actually talk to people.
Fortunately, if your search is focused only on in-house positions, you may be able diversify your networking away from just the boring lawyer networking. Rather, you go the networking events for the industry you want to go in house in.
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