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Good New for In-House Job Seekers: Law Departments Plan on Hiring

As companies continue to slowly emerge from the recession, many are looking for ways to save money on their expensive legal bills. Corporate legal department, according to a recent Altman Weil's Chief Legal Officer Survey, are increasingly telling firms to just forget it, and taking more work in-house.

Altman Weil's Chief Legal Officer Survey, released Wednesday, showed that sixty-three percent of the officers surveyed reported that they had increased their internal budgets from 2009 to 2010, and 29% claimed that they would decrease their use of outside firms in the coming year.

That’s great news for attorneys and paralegals looking to go in-house. The survey showed that 41% of chief legal officers indicated that they plan to hire new in-house lawyers in the next 12 months, and 32% said they would increase the number of paralegals on staff over the same period.

The survey, conducted in September and October, is based on responses from 174 officers from law departments. 28% of respondents run law departments in corporations with over $10 billion in revenues.

Of course, the great majority of companies taking on more work in-house will do so with its existing legal staff, placing increasing pressure on an already overworked staff. However, this mark s a shift from companies simply trying to negotiate law firm fees, to looking at alternatives, including bolstering their own internal capabilities. That’s great news for attorneys who are already in-house, in terms of increased job security, and for those looking to break into the in-house world in terms of opportunity.

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Debunking the Top 10 Job Search Myths – Part 1

There are a lot of misconceptions about the job search process; many of which turn into myths that people believe in and that can prevent them from landing the job of their dream. Here are the top 5 myths of interviewing:

Myth #1: A resume should only be one page long.

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to resume length. Granted, employers are not interested in reading a five or six page resume, but a one-page resume that says little about your skills and experience may be a detrimental as a resume that is simply too long to read. Resumes typically range from one to three pages. While there is something to be said about keeping a resume concise, it’s more important to make sure that the resume contains enough substance to impress and employer than not enough. If you are a recent law school graduate, then a one-page resume will meet your needs. However, if you’ve had more than ten years of experience, you will soon find that a one-page resume often falls short of doing the job.

Myth #2: A cover letter is not necessary.

Most attorneys seeking a new job wonder about the same thing: Is a cover letter really necessary? In this competitive legal market, you have to take every opportunity to stand out from the crowd, and a well-written attorney cover letter can set yourself apart from the competition. While some employers confess to ignoring cover letters altogether, others read them carefully and give them a lot of stock. At the end of the day, it is better to err on the side of over inclusiveness, and add a great attorney cover letter to your resume, rather than sending it alone. Great cover letters can make a difference. Don’t send your resume without one.

Myth #3: It’s okay to stretch the truth a little on a resume.

That may seem like an obvious no-no, but you might be surprised to find out how many applicants stretch the truth or simply lie or their legal resume. The most common offense usually involves some type of misrepresentation or misleading statement concerning degrees, grades, class standing, academic honors, participation on scholarly publications, work history or relevant work experience. Today, employers have access to a number of tools to verify resume information through both formal and informal channels. Therefore, avoid making factual misrepresentations of any kind on your legal resume. You should always aim to represent your qualifications, skills, experience, and interests fully and accurately.

Myth #4: Don’t send out resumes during the summer or in December because no one’s hiring then.

While law firms are less apt to hire during the summer months, there are openings all year round. On the corporate side, business people can sometimes have a more relaxed attitude during the summer, and therefore more time, which could mean an opportunity to approach them and network. People leave and hiring needs change, not matter that the season. Not sending resumes during a particular season because it is viewed as “slow” can affect your chances of landing a great job. In December, companies may have money left over in their budgets to hire, and look to hire before the new calendar or fiscal year. Often, law firm attorneys wait to get their end-of-the-year bonuses before jumping ship elsewhere, which means new positions often become available during this time of the year.

Myth #5: The most qualified candidate is more likely to get the job offer.

That’s not always true. While, firms and companies are looking for highly qualified candidates with specific skills and experience, that’s not always enough to land a job offer. Potential employers are also looking for “fit,” in other words, for someone that meshes well with the culture of the firm or the company, and who will get along with those working there. Often, it’s a case where you have two well-qualified candidates, where one may be a bit more impressive on paper than the other, but the one that gets the offer is the one that “clicked” best with management or the hiring partners. Skills, expertise, great law school credentials, and an impressive track record can only take you so far. Personality and fit are often what gives a candidate the extra boost needed to land an offer.

[Other 5 Myth to come in next post]

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