William and Mary Law School

In-House Counsel

By Fred Dingledy
Revised November 2014


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.

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 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

Corporate Yellow Book, by Leadership Directories, Inc., New York: Monitor Pub. Co., Quarterly.
Directory with contact information for senior leadership of numerous U.S. companies, sometimes including general counsel.

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 2014 (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

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.

Law.com Corporate Counsel
Part of Law.com (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

"Best Legal Departments 2014," 31(6) Corporate Counsel 61-77 (June 2014).
Contains several essays describing the work environment at in-house corporate legal departments Corporate Counsel magazine voted the best of 2014: The Related Group, NetApp, 3M, and AIG.

Interviews, Corporate Counsel (irregular).
Corporate Counsel magazine often features brief interviews with the in-house counsel for various organizations. These interviews often discuss the work involved and the path the interviewee took to get their position.

"In-House Counsel", National Law Journal (weekly).
Weekly feature in the National Law Journal featuring a Q&A session with the in-house counsel of a company. The counsel usually describes their company, what their duties are, and how they got where they are today.

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.

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.

Madison, Cathy, "The Work of General Counsel", Perspectives: The Magazine for the University of Minnesota Law School 22 (Fall 2008).

Focuses on U. of Minnesota Law School alumni, but offers some good examples of what in-house attorneys do and the paths people take to get in-house positions.

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Staff, "In-House Call", Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (irregular).
Occasional column featuring Q&As with the in-house counsel at Massachusetts companies. Among other things, counselors talk about their responsibilities, resources available, and when they may refer to outside counsel. Available on Lexis.

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.

Reisinger, Sue, "The upright parcel service: old-fashioned but eternal virtues like teamwork, neatness, and versatility are to the success of the small but powerful UPS legal team", 18(6) Corporate Counsel 70 (June 2011).
Describes the structure and culture at UPS's in-house legal department, as well as the type of work their attorneys typically perform. Available on Lexis.

Rothblum, Lisa S., "Going Corporate: Plenty of lawyers dream of going in-house. What does it take to successfully make the move?", 30(11) American Lawyer 59 (Nov. 2008). The author describes rules for success for obtaining an in-house position and for what to do once you're working as in-house counsel. 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.

Schnider, Peter. "Weighing the benefits of being an in-house counsel", Survival Guide for New Attorneys in California (Los Angeles Lawyer) 14 (Fall 2011).
A company's general counsel briefly describes the path to an in-house position and some of the job's advantages and disadvantages.

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.

"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.


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
e-mail: businesslaw@americanbar.org
website: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/business_law.html
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
website: http://www.acc.com
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
website: http://www.thefederation.org
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
website: http://www.mcca.com
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