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Two things you didn’t expect when you went in-house March 20, 2013

Posted by Brian Schar in General.
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A lot of ink has been spilled over the years about the transition from law firm to in-house practice.  However, there are two aspects of in-house practice that usually get overlooked.

The first is that you will be the first lawyer that most of your co-workers have ever met, if you are at a small to medium-sized company.  All they know about lawyers is what they see on TV or read in the paper – and most of that isn’t particularly positive.  A percentage of your co-workers actively will be wary or scared of you at first.  Part of your job is to be a good ambassador for the profession.  Be nice.  Be professional and pleasant.  Make conversation.  Make jokes.  Act like a human being.  That will break down the walls and help you fit in to a business environment quickly and effectively.

Second, after they get to know you and realize you are an OK person, you will start to get requests for referrals.  As the only lawyer many of your co-workers know – particularly the lower-paid ones – you are their on-ramp onto the chaotic freeway of the legal system.  They don’t have any idea how to pick a lawyer.  It’s a good idea to connect with friends from law school, or trusted colleagues, and have a few different folks on deck for recommendations.  The ones  you’ll be asked about most will be personal injury, divorce/family law, criminal law, and immigration.  It will behoove you to have a recommendation or two handy for lawyers in at least those specialties.

However, I do recommend not referring your co-workers to employment plaintiff’s counsel!