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by Vault Law Editors | March 10, 2009

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Question: Next year, I will graduate from law school and would like to work in a corporate legal department. Any suggestions on how to land an in-house position?

Bill and Chet: Corporate legal departments tend to hire attorneys with a good amount of experience. At least as far as Fortune 500 companies go, I've heard of very few cases of lawyers being hired right out law school to work in the legal department.

Corporations prefer that lawyers spend several years in the law firm environment getting the necessary training and experience before they will seriously consider hiring them.

There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that it makes financial sense to let someone else train the lawyers before hiring them. Another reason is that many corporate legal departments are relatively small in terms of number of lawyers and they are often divided into departments. This is not conducive to providing junior lawyers with serious training.~Another reason corporate legal departments can wait to hire more experienced lawyers is because so many attorneys now want to work in-house. A large corporation often has its pick of many qualified candidates.

I would therefore suggest that you pay your dues working at a law firm or perhaps a government agency where you can pick up the needed experience. Working at a law firm will also give you valuable contact with corporate clients who like to hire away from firms lawyers they know and with whom they have worked on prior occasions.

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