When FMC Technologies GC Jeffrey Carr hired three new lawyers for his department recently, he took two from law firms and one who had gotten some in-house experience after a law firm stint.
Although he hired law-firm trained attorneys, he will still have to teach them to do things the FMC way. And while law firms teach practical skills, their training emphasis is on putting out fires, whereas in-house counsel focus on preventing them. As a result, Carr thought about—but rejected—the idea of hiring recent law school graduates and training them from scratch.
HP's Boot Camp
In fall 2009, the leaders of Hewlett-Packard’s legal department saw an opportunity and took it. Many law firms were deferring or rescinding offers to new associates, leaving top graduates from the nation’s leading law schools in the lurch.
Pfizer's Hybrid Model
In September 2011, three new law school grads from Harvard and Yale entered a pilot program at Pfizer that combines in-house and law firm training. It’s an outgrowth of the pharmaceutical giant’s partnership with 19 law firms known as the Pfizer Legal Alliance (PLA), through which the firms get a long-term commitment of work in exchange for abandoning hourly rate billing. They become closely integrated with the Pfizer legal team.
Very few lawyers make it to the corporate world without first spending several years at a law firm. While a handful of large companies are starting to train in-house lawyers directly out of law school, most in-house attorneys without law firm experience had to forge a path to the law department door. The following profiles tell the stories of four attorneys who went straight from law school to corporate jobs.
Cesar Alvarez, HP