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As Nonprofits Look to Hire In-House Lawyers, General Counsel Offers Tips to Those Who Want the Job


Once a BigLaw litigation associate, Lesley Rosenthal found a way to land a job many lawyers only dream of.

Now the general counsel in charge of a small legal department at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, the former Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison attorney offers tips in a column in the Careerist about how others can position themselves for similar success.

Among other ideas, Rosenthal suggests that lawyers interested in such jobs build up their resumes to demonstrate expertise and interest in the kind of organization for which they would like to work. It may even be necessary to persuade the nonprofit it needs a general counsel, although a growing number are reaching this realization on their own, she says. Meanwhile, consider taking a nonlegal job with the organization, which could provide a bridge to the general counsel’s office.

“Of the nation’s charitable organizations, only a minuscule fraction has regular access to counsel, whether in-house or outside, paid or voluntary,” she writes. “Unless the organization has an unusually high-risk profile or is particularly savvy about legal matters, it is unusual to put an attorney in charge of the organization’s legal affairs.

“Until now. Tectonic shifts in the nonprofit landscape are persuading directors and senior executives that it is necessary and desirable to bring on counsel to oversee the organization’s legal function.”

Hat tip: Am Law Daily.

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