In-House Counsel

By Fred Dingledy
Revised January 2018


Related guide: Corporate & Securities Law Research, Corporate Law Career Guide

Books & Narratives
The Corporate Lawyer: Industry Insiders on the Successful Practice of Business Law, Boston, MA: Aspatore Books, 2003.

Essays from several corporate practice attorneys describing the ins and outs of corporate law.
KF1414 C67

The Generalist Counsel: How Leading General Counsel Are Shaping Tomorrow's Companies, by Prashant Dubey and Eva Kripalani, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013.
This book is based on the authors' interviews with general counsel from several companies. The book describes the transition from a law firm to an in-house position, as well as the duties, responsibilities, and necessary skills that come with the position.
KF1425 .D83

Going In-House: A Guide For Law Students and Recent Graduates, by Donna Gerson, Washington, D.C.: National Association for Law Placement, 2003.
A brief booklet describing the duties and potential career paths for in-house attorneys, how to enter the world of in-house work, and the advantages and disadvantages of being in-house counsel versus other types of legal positions.
KF299 I5G47 (in Office of Career Services)

Indispensable Counsel: The Chief Legal Officer in the New Reality, by E. Norman Veasey and Christine T. Di Guglielmo, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012.
The authors examine the main roles of a company's Chief Legal Officer and how to best achieve those goals.
KF1425 .V43 2012

Inside counsel : practices, strategies, and insights, by Marc I. Steinberg and Stephen B. Yeager, St. Paul, MN: West Academic Publishing, 2015.
Steinberg and Yeager describe what it is like to work as in-house counsel and offer strategies for success in the position.

Inside straight : advice about lawyering, in-house, and out that only the Internet could provide, by Mark Herrmann. Chicago, American Bar Assn., 2012.
Collection of posts from a blog of the same name on the website Above the Law describing the author's experiences as an in-house counsel.
KF1425 .H47 2012 (in Law Library stacks and in Office of Career Services)

In-House: A Lawyer's Guide to Getting a Corporate Legal Position, by David J. Parnell, Chicago: American Bar Assn., 2012.
A book filled with advice on how to get an in-house position and successfully develop it, as well as descriptions of the work atmosphere.
KF299 .I5 P37 2012

Soderquist on Corporate Law and Practice, 4th ed., by Linda O. Smiddy, New York: Practicing Law Institute, 2012.
This book contains a chapter called "Approaching Corporation Law". It provides both the detail of corporation law and a broader perspective of the profession.
KF1414 .S57

Guides & Directories

Directory of Corporate Counsel, [New York]: Law & Business/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Annual.
A directory of corporate and in-house counsel.

Full Disclosure: the New Lawyer's Must-Read Career Guide, by Christen Civiletto Carey, New York: ALM Publishing, 2001.
Contains an informative chapter on what corporations look for when hiring, and the type of experiences you might have as in-house counsel.
KF297 .C37 2001 (in Office of Career Services)

National Directory of Corporate Public Affairs, Columbia Books, Annual.
Contains contact information for legal and regulatory affairs officers within corporations, as well as other corporate officials responsible for public affairs.
HD59 .N24 2015 (in Office of Career Services)

Vault Guide to Corporate Law Careers, by Zahie El Kourie, New York: Vault Inc., c2003.
Serves as a guide for choosing corporate law by offering a more grounded view of the profession. Found in the Career Services Office.
KF299 .I5 E416 (in Office of Career Services)

Databases & Websites

WESTLAW: The Legal Practice Database
This database contains articles from law reviews, professional publications, and more that focus on the practical aspects of attorneys in all types of practices, including corporate counsel.

WESTLAW: West Legal Directory -- Corporate Counsel
Contains profiles of corporate legal departments, firms, and corporate counsel.

WESTLAW: West Legal Directory -- Corporations and Business Organizations
Similar to above directory, but has a broader scope -- profiles law firms, corporate law offices, and government positions from across the US.

Association of Corporate Counsel Careers

Search for available in-house counsel positions. Searching is free, but must be a member to post a resume. Also has FAQ for job-seekers.

Inside Straight
Blog on the website Above the Law written by an in-house counsel describing their experiences and offering advice and thoughts on issues related to in-house practice. Corporate Counsel
Part of (home to American Lawyer and other publications), this website offers access to surveys of in-house counsel and rankings of in-house departments, as well as access to articles from Corporate Counsel magazine to keep you up-to-date on what's going on in the corporate law world. Free registration required for access to some features.
Online version of the venerable Martindale-Hubbell Directory. Lets you search for corporate legal departments, and also has a career center with job listing search.

Journal Articles

ALM Intelligence & Morrison and Foerster, General Counsel Up-at-night Report (Spring 2017, scheduled for semi-annual release).
Report on results of survey of US corporate in-house attorneys on the most important challenges they face today. Free registration required to read report.

"Best Legal Departments of 2016," 23(6) Corporate Counsel 47-64 (June 2016).
Contains several essays describing the work environment at in-house corporate legal departments Corporate Counsel magazine voted the best of 2016: Hewlett Packard, Oracle, Ciena, and Viacom.

Block, Josh. "Sorry Law Firms, Verizon’s GC is Taking it In-House", Bloomberg Law (April 22, 2016).
Interview with Craig Silliman, Verizon's General Counsel. Silliman describes Verizon's legal department and his efforts to bring more work in-house, and also describes the type of work he is bringing to inside counel.

Chambers Associate, "In-house counsel".
Describes the advantages and disadvantages of working as in-house counsel, as well as some of the obstacles you may face in getting an in-house position.

E. Leigh Dance, "4 Reasons Why In-House Lawyers Can Be Bullish About the Future," Corporate Counsel (Jan. 12, 2016).
The head of legal services management consultancy ELD International LLC lists several reasons why he thinks the future looks bright for in-house attorneys.

Gordon, Leslie A., "Life of In-House Lawyers", 34(2) San Francisco Attorney 24(8) (Summer 2008).

Several in-house counsels describe what their work involves and what a workday is like.

Green, Shannon, "Adversity breeds character: The new health care law presented WellPoint with one of its biggest challenges ever", 18(6) Corporate Counsel 74 (June 2011).
Describes the structure of Wellpoint's in-house legal department, some of the situations in-house attorneys have to deal with, and how the chief counsel prepared to testify before Congress on Wellpoint's actions. Available on Lexis.

Hechler, David, "Go Ahead, Make His Day. . .", Corporate Counsel (Online) (March 1, 2015).
Describes a program at Hewlett-Packard's in-house legal department to hire and train attorneys directly out of law school. Available on Lexis.

Hechler, David, "They Aced the Stress Test: The financial meltdown gave The Hartford's lawyers a chance to prove their worth", 16(6) Corporate Counsel 62 (June 2009).
In-house attorneys from The Hartford Financial Services Group discuss their work. The article also describes a time when the in-house lawyers had to assemble a deal in four days. Available on Lexis.

Herrmann, Mark, "4 Red Flags at In-House Interviews", Above the Law (Nov. 7, 2016).
Brief blog post that lists some warning signs to look out for while interviewing for an in-house counsel position.

Hirsch, Stewart. "Directions to the GC seat (part 1): Establishing GPS coordinates for the emerging leader", 25(272) InsideCounsel 14 (August 2014).
Executive coach Stewart Hirsch describes some of the things an attorney needs to do five years out if they want to become a company's general counsel.

Kim, Sung Hui. "Inside Lawyers: Friends or Gatekeepers?", 84 Fordham Law Review 1867 (2016).
UCLA professor's article illustrates some of the ethical challenges in-house lawyers will face in upcoming years.

Okray, John and Diana Lai, "Hiring and Compensation Trends for In-House Counsel", 61(2) The Federal Lawyer 34 (March 1, 2014)
Interview with Heather Fine, managing director of Major, Lindsey & Africa's Chicago Office, who places attorneys into in-house corporate positions. She discusses current trends in hiring and compensation of in-house counsel.

Rasmussen, Kristen, "From Orcas to Elephants, PETA Foundation's Landmark Litigation Leads to Banner Year", 23(6) Corporate Counsel 56 (June 1, 2017).
Interview with PETA's legal team describing their office environment, the personality traits found in people who work there, and the type of work their office does. Available on Lexis.

Reisinger, Sue, "Cleaning Up with Clorox's Legal Team", 23(6) Corporate Counsel 44 (June 1, 2017).
Interview with the leaders of Clorox's in-house legal department. Interviewees describe their career history before working at their current position and the type of work they do at Clorox. Available on Lexis.

Reisinger, Sue, "UPS GC: 'We Want to Be Problem Solvers, Not Issue Spotters'", Corporate Counsel (Online) (Jan. 6, 2016).
Brief interview with UPS's General Counsel. Describes structure of UPS's legal department and issues they face. Available on Lexis.

Respass, Helen. "10 Things To Know About Being An In-House Generalist", Above the Law (Apr. 18, 2017).
In a brief Q&A, former Assistant General Counsel for Sojitz Corporation describes the qualities needed to be a in-house general counsel. She describes the pros and cons of GC work, common paths towards a GC position, and a typical workday.

Ruiz, David, "How to Get a Job at Apple", The Recorder (Online) (March 20, 2015).

The author analyzes data from LinkedIn and California Bar profiles of 191 in-house attorneys at Apple Inc. and offers some demographic analysis as well as a description of some of the career paths the attorneys took to get there. Available on Lexis.

Sallet, Jonathan, "Growing pains, growing gains: how to fill the big shoes of the new legal manager position", 18(1) Corporate Counsel 45 (Jan. 2011).
A former chief policy counsel for MCI and current co-chair of O'Melveny & Myers's integrated legal services practice group offers his advice on the new roles chief corporate counsels have to assume today. Available on Lexis.

Schumpeter, "A guardian and a guide", 403(8779) Economist 80 (Apr. 7, 2012).

Brief column describing the modern role of corporate lawyers, and the balancing act they must achieve between loyalty to the company and ethical duties.

Sheridan, Dana Hentges, "Protecting and Serving", 34(7) California Lawyer 16 (July 2014).
Dana Hentges Sheridan left her law firm job for an in-house position in 2012. In this brief article, she describes what her new job is like, including the advantages over law firm life and the new challenges.

Sisco, Joshua. "Companies open doors to younger lawyers", 137(11) The Recorder 11 (Mar. 18, 2013).
Discusses a trend among companies towards hiring more junior lawyers for in-house positions and the advantages and disadvantages, both for the companies and for the attorneys. Available on Lexis.

Sloan, Karen. "The In-House Shortcut; New law school graduates are finding 'associate' jobs in law departments", Corporate Counsel 18 (Feb. 2014).
Discusses "associate" positions that some in-house departments have created for recent law school graduates. Available on Lexis.

Smith, Anne & Alexa Baltodano, "Is an In-House Counsel Job Right for You? A Guide for Law Grads", Before the Bar (posted Dec. 18, 2017).
This article describes the differences between an in-house position and working at a firm. The authors also list some of the traits in-house employers look for in candidates and offer suggestions for people applying for in-house positions.

"The Thirteenth Annual Frankel Lecture", 46(1) Houston Law Review (2009).
This issue of the Houston Law Review contains an Essay by a law professor and Commentaries by a business law professor and a finance professor discussing the different mindsets of an in-house counsel coming from the legal world and the business executives the counsel will find themselves dealing with.

"What Is It Like To Work As The General Counsel Of A Startup Company?", Above the Law (posted August 14, 2014).
Summary of an Above The Law-sponsored panel discussion with several general counsels for startup companies. Includes discussions of how to get such a position, least and most favorite aspects of the job, and what it is like to work with outside firms.

Williams-Alvarez, Jennifer. "When Moving In-House, Office Politics Can Be A Struggle", Corporate Counsel (June 30, 2016).
Summary of a panel discussion in which three attorneys discuss what it was like to move from a law firm to working as in-house counsel. Available on Lexis.


There are numerous legal periodicals that cover the topic of in-house corporate law. Those listed below are a representative selection of titles that discuss issues related to being a practitioner in the field.

BNA's Corporate Counsel Weekly
Library has vol. 1 (1986) - present.
Washington D.C.: Bureau of national affairs.

The Business Lawyer
Library has vol 1, 1946 to present.
5x per year.
Chicago: Section of Corporation, Banking, and Business Law.
Westlaw: BUSLAW
Available on Lexis.


The following organizations are active or maintain an interest in in-house corporate law. They offer membership opportunities, information on the industry, and possible employment opportunities. Most of them sponsor seminars or conferences on relevant topics.

American Bar Association Section of Business Law
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654
phone: 312-988-5588
fax: 312-988-5578
Provides a number of resources for those considering business law in addition to membership benefits.

Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)
1025 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 200
Washington, DC
tel: (202) 293-4103
Lawyers practicing law in corporate law departments. Represents corporate counsel on public policy issues before the courts, legislatures, and agencies at the local, state, and national levels. Provides programs and other activities covering the areas of law department management, business law, corporate law, and litigation and dispute management. Has established a corporate group enrollment program. Maintains 18 committees including Corporate and Securities Law; International Legal Affairs; Law Department Management; and Small Law Department.

Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC)
11812 N. 56th St.
Tampa, FL 33617
tel: (813) 983-0022
Professional society of attorneys actively engaged in the legal aspects of the insurance industry; insurance company executives; corporate counsel involved in the defense of claims. Conducts research through Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel Foundation. Maintains numerous law sections and committees. Conducts seminars and educational sessions.

Minority Corporate Counsel Association
1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
phone: 202-739-5901
Created to advance diversity in corporate legal departments as well as in law firms serving corporations. Website includes magazine Diversity and the Bar and a Career Center with a job bank and educational materials, among other things.

Photo: Associated Press