As an array of well-known technology companies have announced layoffs in recent weeks, in-house counsel have not been spared.
This has resulted in experienced corporate lawyers and other talented legal professionals from the likes of Twitter and DoorDash entering the job market during a period of economic uncertainty.
But Jessica Nguyen, chief legal officer at the contract management software company Lexion, said there are still companies across a mix of industries that are hiring.
In a recent interview with Legal Dive, she offered several tips for in-house counsel eager to successfully secure new positions.
Share your story
Nguyen recommended in-house counsel be transparent about being laid off, noting there should be no stigma or shame associated with letting their networks know what transpired.
She said lawyers can update their LinkedIn profiles to indicate they are looking for work and publish a post that is gracious in describing their time at the previous company.
Nguyen said in-house counsel should be clear in these posts what type of new roles they are looking for, including any preferences they have regarding remote work or working for organizations in specific regions.
For example, a lawyer could share that they hope to work remotely for another B2B tech company in Silicon Valley.
Highlight your value
Nguyen said it is also very important that in-house lawyers outline in their public posts and communications with members of their networks the value they could bring to another organization.
The more specific attorneys can be when doing so, the better, she said.
Nguyen gave a personal example of her value add from her time serving as general counsel of Payscale, the compensation software and data company, from spring 2017 to early 2020.
Nguyen said she helped the company implement a GDPR compliance plan and provided enterprise account executives talk tracks about how the company’s GDPR compliance was a competitive advantage against similar companies.
These efforts helped increase Paycale’s conversion rates with enterprise customers 25% year over year.
“Ideally, bring numbers to your story and that will be a lot more powerful and resonate with whomever you are trying to pitch yourself to,” Nguyen said.
Embrace large company experience
Nguyen acknowledged it can be more difficult for lawyers who have worked in larger legal departments to quantify their impact, but she said attorneys from companies such as Twitter and DoorDash should have meaningful experiences they can highlight in their job searches.
These significant experiences could include successful initiatives to automate a certain legal function or using their operations muscles to reduce pain points in business operations.
Additionally, commercial lawyers could emphasize the positive business impacts of the support they provided the sales organization.
“Bringing all of those insights about what worked to scale and operate efficiently at a larger organization to a smaller or midsize organization that needs that [experience] is a big value add,” Nguyen said.
On a personal level, Nguyen said she highlighted her nearly four years working as an in-house counsel at Microsoft when pursuing a job at Payscale.
Nguyen told the company’s CEO that her experience on the legal team supporting Microsoft Outlook/Exchange could help her improve Payscale’s positioning within the enterprise segment and grow its international presence.
Utilize your network
In-house counsel seeking a new job also would be wise to actively leverage their professional networks, according to Nguyen.
She said these efforts should include personally contacting anyone they know at companies they want to work or seeking an introduction from a connection with contacts at the company. Such outreaches should not be limited to contacting other legal professionals.
Along those lines, Nguyen said the way she landed her job at Lexion began with her sending the company’s CTO and co-founder Emad Elwany, a former colleague of hers at Microsoft, a LinkedIn message highlighting the value she could bring if a legal position opened up.
Nguyen said that beyond handling legal issues, she also highlighted she could assist with business operations, go-to-market strategy, accelerating brand awareness, marketing content and product development.
"It doesn't hurt to ask for the opportunities you want, but when you do, I always recommend making it clear that the ask includes the tremendous value you'll bring to the table,” she said.