On Oct. 14, the IP Committee, Career Placement Committee, Young Lawyers Committee, and the Membership Committee hosted Landing Your First Corporate Gig: Tips for Counsel in the 308at156 Art Gallery at Lee Anav Chung White & Kim LLP. Moderated by IP Committee Co-Chair Stacy Wu, the panel consisted of:

  • Charles Chen (Deputy General Counsel, Intellectual Property, HICKIES)
  • Lee Pham (Director of Global Intellectual Property Strategy, American Express)
  • Gene Rhough (VP, Business & Legal Affairs, Global Digital Business, Sony Music Entertainment)
  • Jeff Tang (Intellectual Property Attorney, IBM)

Whereas all the attorneys on the panel are now in house, only one of them, Gene Rhough, went the more common law firm to in house route. Each shared their unique experiences of taking the initiative in their own training and discovering what makes an attorney essential to a corporation – showing enthusiasm and adding value. The roundtable discussed the importance of keeping yourself engaged to prevent your career from plateauing.

Charles, who was the first attorney at Hickies and was a one-man legal department until recently, highlighted the difficulties of growing yourself and your department. For him to grow as an attorney, as Hickies was his first full-time legal job out of law school, he sought the help of mentors from elsewhere. Lee highlighted a number of important points from involving yourself in affinity groups where you can not only find a community but also add value, to understanding big numbers and relative value to a company, to exercising good judgment when you disagree with a decision, and more. Gene noted that while the experts may be at the firm and in house attorneys have a seat at the table for a legal reason, what makes an in house attorney successful is that they offer something besides legal expertise – good business sense. A good in house attorney does not just tell a company what they can’t do – they propose alternatives. That point was also stressed by Jeff Tang, who while never working at a firm, built his resume around intellectual property, always keeping in mind the direction that he wanted to go. He also brought up the fact that one of the best parts about working in house at IBM is that he gets to be around the inventive minds of researchers, and that those considering leaving a firm need to adjust to not being around lawyers all the time.

All and all, it was an honest and productive discussion, followed by an enjoyable reception with about 30 attendees. Thanks to everyone who made the event possible!

Check out the live-tweets from the event below.

“Landing Your First Corporate Gig: Tips from Counsel” is taking place in 30 minutes at the 308at156 Art Gallery… http://t.co/9OToFQ2IiE

“Landing Your First Corporate Gig: Tips from Counsel” is taking place in 30 minutes at the 308at156 Art Gallery… http://t.co/9OToFQ2IiE

The panel will start soon. Make sure to get a drink before they run out! http://t.co/zOhTzNz5Gp

Charles Chen actually found his job at @hickies through @LinkedIn – first full-time law job out of school!

Lee Pham: I interned in-house at AmEx and held on for dear life. pic.twitter.com/P5PQL3MjTZ

“As everything became digital, lawyers had to adapt to the new age.” -Gene Rhough, Attorney at Sony Music pic.twitter.com/AdFmv6dS7F

Jeff Tang: “The difference between the USPTO and IBM is that there’s not direct competition for promotion in government.”

“Leaving firm life to go in-house makes you really appreciate paralegals.”

“You have to really be smart about when you march to the beat of your own drum. Focus on tangible results.” -Lee Pham @InventiveLee

“A lot of attorneys miss the point when they tell business people the problem. They also have to propose an alternative.” -Jeff Tang

“When you’re in house, you have a seat at the table because of the law. That’s why you’re there, but you have to bring something else.” -GR

“The crowd that gets in at 7am is different than the 9:30am crowd. Don’t read too much work-life balance.” –@InventiveLee

“If you build a reputation, you’re going to be asked to be put on interesting projects and you won’t plateau.” @InventiveLee

Sometimes, to advance, you need to lateral. That’s not just law. That’s all careers. -Gene Rhough

“Anyone can’t be your mentor, but most people who encourage you to do something great can be. That’s how you grow.” -Charles Chen