Is it possible to land an in house job that specializes in a practice that wasn’t your main practice as a law firm associate?

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Anything is possible, but it’ll really depend on how much your work experience will lend itself to understanding the “new” practice area or how well you can articulate how your experience is valuable, if you can get past a screen.

Depending on the specific job/company/location, many in house positions get tons (think hundreds or more) of qualified applicants so you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage at the start if you’re being compared to those who already have years of that speciality in private practice. That being said, give it a shot.

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Thanks! It’s sort of like my secondary practice and the one I’m really interested in, just not my main one

Yes. I have done it. I was an ERISA and tax associate, but have practiced in a wide range of areas in-house. I sometimes joke I practice “door law” - what ever comes in the door.

It’s my observation that in-house counsel roles can fall into two buckets. Some in-house counsel are deep subject matter experts in their areas of practice and they really focus and hone that skill set. Others, like me, are significantly broader in scope but not nearly as deep. I love the challenge of learning new areas and it has significantly enhanced my career trajectory to have demonstrated learning agility. If you’re trying to break away from a practice area by going in-house, maybe look for opportunities like mine, where they’re looking for an all-around lawyer, not a SME.

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Sure, but it depends on a lot of things. Like, how interrelated are the two? Do you need to specialize in it to be proficient in it?

Take this as an example for my world, I'd argue if you passed the patent bar but have only done litigation you would not be the best fit for an IP Counsel role unless you were being hired to work with outside litigation counsel. But, if you have filed and prosecuted your fair share of trademarks but it just doesn't dominate your billing (likely because of volume) you likely could do enough to get yourself up to speed to be a full time TM attorney.

If it makes sense, and you can make the nexus, at least let them tell you no rather than not applying.

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Yes. Just gotta find your way in.

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Meant to add: Good luck!

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Thank you!

Yes

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I work in government contracts and it’s common for folks to take in-house roles with little to no firm background in the field and learn on the job.

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Before moving in-house, I specialized in federal and international tax. Just transitioned to a role that focuses on film and TV production tax, something that I did not have a lot of experience in.

To answer your question, it definitely happens! I would highly recommend finding a group / company that is willing to train and develop you. Good luck!

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Thanks!

Yep, just have to sell yourself and ability to retool. It’s the easiest if you can get your foot in the door at your firm first.

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