In-House Counsel

HP Decides to Hire New Law Grads Rather than Law Firm Associates

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Like most corporations, Hewlett-Packard hired its in-house lawyers after they got some experience at law firms.

Now the company is trying a different tack. It is hiring four lawyers fresh out of law school and paying them $115,000 a year, plus a $15,000 hiring bonus, the Recorder reports. HP will train the lawyers in programs similar to the ones implemented at Howrey and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

The new hires, who will start in September, are from law schools at Harvard, Northwestern and the University of California at Berkeley.

The training program is the latest change at HP’s legal department implemented by general counsel Michael Holston, who worked at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and was HP’s outside counsel before he moved to the company in 2007. Holston has increased workload requirements and trimmed spending on outside counsel since he took the job.

Deputy general counsel Gabriel Buigas interviewed students at eight law schools who were interested in the program. Under the old model, HP hired fifth- to seventh-year associates from law firms. “You spend a fair bit of time getting them to transition from risk avoidance to risk management,” Buigas told the Recorder. “Mike fundamentally believes that we can better develop lawyers in-house right now than we can hiring from a law firm at the more junior level.”

The training program will be divided into practice areas, including intellectual property, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and employment law, the story says. Skills emphasized will include research and writing, negotiation, litigation and business acumen.

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