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How to Move From the Law Office to the Corporate Suite

The road to general counsel often starts at BigLaw, but does not go from there directly to the corporate Big Chair.

Fewer corporations are hiring attorneys straight out of law firms to lead their legal business. In the past three years, the number of new hires from law firms has dropped to about 18 percent.

That's more than a bump in the road. It's a sign telling you how to go from the law office to the corporate office.

Being in house often means feeling disconnected from the rest of the legal world. When in-house attorneys show up to networking or social events with practicing lawyers, it can often feel like inside counsel are from Earth, while litigators are from Dante's fourth circle.

However, it doesn't have to be that way for in-house counsel. With a little bit of extra reading in their free time (which notably in-house counsel actually have, as opposed to litigators who gave up free time along with family and any sense of ever being able to relax), an in-house attorney can remain relevant, keep up to date, and even find some enjoyment.

Below, you can read about the three best things to read for in-house counsels.

Business Talk: Words That Make You Sound Weak

In the lexicon of leadership, there are some words you should not say.

They suggest weakness or failure, a tentative approach when directness is required. Leaders should use assertive language that conveys "confidence and authority," says one writer.

It's all good to delete some expressions for business purposes, but remember what George Carlin said about forbidden words: "You never know what's going to be on the list because it's always somebody else's list."

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.