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Why In-House Lawyers Should Be Practical, Not Academic

In the movie Wonder, a child shares the wisdom of choosing between right and kind: "Choose kind."

It's a quotable precept in a story about a boy adjusting to life with a birth defect. It is worthy of repeating in any life, but with a twist for the life of in-house counsel:

When given a choice between an academic or practical approach, choose practical.

Tips to Improve Office Meetings

While walking to deliver a speech at NASA, President John F. Kennedy got lost and found himself in a janitor's closest.

The President encountered a man there, cleaning a mop, and asked what he was doing at the facility.

"Oh," the startled worker said, "I'm putting a man on the Moon." According to legend, that inspired JFK to "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

It was an idea that propelled a nation to the Moon, and it has the power to transform your meetings into inspirational moments. It's about purpose.

Three Bad Reasons to Stay When You Want to Quit

You know you want to quit, but something is holding you back.

Is it that you are afraid of an uncertain future? Maybe you're worried about making less money? You think people will look down at you for getting out of the business?

These may be the reasons you aren't leaving, but they are bad reasons for staying in a job you can't stand. Here's why:

Negotiation Tips From Harvard

Every lawyer is a negotiator, and most have a story to go with it.

Like Jackie, who was working for a financial instituion when she received a job offer from a bank to work in-house. It was for more than she expected, but she was still looking at a pay cut.

"She went in asking for 20K more; they countered at 18K more than the initial offer, and she accepted!" Forbes related, adding, "Simply asking works." It's one of many stories and tips on how to negotiate. Beyond that, Harvard offers a valuable checklist to consider:

The going doesn't get much better than being an in-house lawyer. Regular hours, regular pay, respect from the proletariat, and best of all, no billable hour logs. As such, one of the easiest ways an in-house lawyer can make sure they don't get fired is to avoid conflicts.

One of the most common conflicts involves representing the company and its employees and officers in the same legal matter. Adverse interests may not be readily apparent at the outset, but as time continues, a conflict could arise that could render you no longer employable by your only client.

Whether you represent a corporation, or private or public entity, chances are you'll need to get some board or council to approve any settlement offer or demand you make or receive. Typically, when you go to the board, you not only need to present the demand or offer, you also need to provide a recommendation.

Although the entity client may have provided an acceptable range at the outset, rarely will settlement negotiations actually be in that range. However, there are some entities that do have clear policies and a generous settlement budget, where a GC can act without board approval within a certain range, like the University of California.

Here are three tips to help you get your settlement recommendations approved by the board:

Being an in-house lawyer is not without its attendant risks and ethical obligations. Both new and experienced in-house counsel can make mistakes both as a lawyer and just in terms of the business they work for.

However, knowing about some of the more common mistakes can help you avoid them. To that end, below you'll find five of the most common flubs in-house lawyers can make.

When it comes to advertising, the celebrity endorsement can be one of the riskiest yet most profitable spends a private company makes on marketing. If your consumer base is known to follow a particular celebrity, or group of celebrities, getting an endorsement could result in a serious windfall (think Shark Tank effect).

Though the potential for profit is real when your company's product or service is put in front of a celebrity's fan base, the legal risks are also very real, and the potential to flop thanks to a "promoted" tag, or lots of other reasons, are not insignificant. That's not even considering the fact that celebrities are notoriously unreliable, and their drama could result in your company's reputation tanking.

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.

For law students seeking to work in house, many will often wonder whether earning a MBA can make their JD more marketable to the in house hiring decision makers. But, like most legal issues, the answer is: It depends.

Depending on what sort of work you are looking to perform in house, having an MBA along with your J, unfortunately might not make much difference. For instance, if you will be working on government compliance or intellectual property matters, the MBA will likely matter less than a technical background, and/or prior experience.