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Land That In-House Counsel Job With These 5 Interview Strategies

By Thai Phi Le

June 3, 2016

in-house-counselWant to go in-house, but stumped on where to start? Katherine Mineka, associate general counsel for WGL's Washington Gas, recently sat down with the Bar to offer five key strategies for a successful interview:

 

Do Your Homework

Pull out those research skills you used at your last case to learn more about the organization. Go beyond the "About Us" part of a company's Web site. What are its mission and values? Read its annual report. Check out its 10-K report. Know what's going on in its industry.

Once you understand the business, drill deeper, says Mineka. Don't be afraid to ask who's conducting your interview. If you find out, research their background. If you don't know the names, find out who the general counsel is in case you meet with him or her. "People appreciate it if you show understanding of their background," says Mineka.

Figure Out How You Connect to the Mission

In a law firm you are clearly connected to the mission of providing legal services. For organizations, the link may not be so direct. "[In] the organizations that I work with and for, our mission is something where legal services supports it," says Mineka. "You're going to get asked the question not only why you want to go in-house, but also why you want to work here." There is no right answer, but your response is going to show how you connect to the organization's mission and values. They want to know you're not looking for just any job—you want to work specifically for them.

Think Ahead

Once you've gotten a sense of the organization's business and priorities, think about the legal issues it might face down the road. "Be prepared to be engaged in a legal discussion specific to the organization," says Mineka. Also, don't forget about pulling out your past experiences that are applicable to the organization's future challenges.

Ask About the Corporate Culture

Interviews are a two-way street. Figure out if the company is a good fit for you. Asking about its culture is a great open-ended way to learn more about what it would be like to actually work there and learn things about the organization that you can't find online.

Be Professional and Personable

Seems simple, right? Remember that while an organization is looking for a person to professionally represent them, an in-house counsel must work collaboratively with others with ease. And sometimes you might even have to leave the legal jargon at home. As in-house counsel, you will be working with people in the business who may not be attorneys. "Often someone on the business side is at the interview to see that you can interact with someone not on the legal side," says Mineka.