For some experienced ex-general counsels, unemployment has become the new reality.
While most would think that the recession hit hardest for those attorneys with the least amount of experience, many unemployed are also those with too many years of experience.
And together, they have formed a support group - "Senior In-House Counsel in Transition" - a small group of highly-experienced but unemployed former general counsels in Chicago.
One member of this group is Susan Hallsby, reports the Chicago Tribune. She has two decades of experience working as in-house counsel at various companies. She lost her job as assistant general counsel when her most recent employer, OSI Industries, downsized their legal department in 2009. She has been unable to find another job.
While the economy is recovering, it seems that many in-house departments are advertising for positions that require less experience and come with a smaller salary, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Could it be that experienced in-house counsels are simply too expensive for companies to hire?
After all, unless companies are huge, there is always the option to out-source legal work or hire temporary workers or contract attorneys to fill the void. Having an on-staff legal department can be costly.
One thing in-house counsels can do to try to combat the poor job market is to do some more networking and to develop more professional contacts. Jennifer Sara Levin, a legal recruiter based in Chicago, launched First Chair, a forum where in-house lawyers can mingle and make connections with counsel from private firms, reports the Chicago Tribune.
So, while the job market may seem dire, for ex-general counsels, unemployment does not need to be an end-game. Building professional contacts and relying on one's built-up network can be the difference between landing a new job, or staying stagnant in the unemployment line.