Meet our next group of the 2016 Trending 40 Corporate Counsel honorees...
Arushi Sharma Frank, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Counsel, Electric Power Supply Association
Hometown: Bethesda, MD
First job: American Gas Association, Associate Counsel, Energy & Environment
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You have your hands in all aspects of your organization's mission and its ups and downs, an experience you cannot be a part of from the outside of the company.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Work work work work work - throughout school, during summers, during seasonal holiday breaks. The more non-legal, professional experience you generate before and during law school, the sooner you will see opportunities to go in-house after law school. Eat healthy, be happy, and apply yourself.
Richard Dyer, Associate General Counsel and Assistant Secretary, The Advisory Board Company
Hometown: Stony Point, NY
First job: Old school paper route (bicycle)
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You are more likely to hear semi-meaningful phrases like: “breaking down silos”, “low hanging fruit”, “leveraging [or] scaling” [anything] and “putting a pin” [in something].
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Work on your writing. Whether you are writing for a legal audience or your business colleagues, being able to articulate something clearly, precisely, and succinctly cannot be overrated. It will help you in all aspects of your career.
Heather French, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, American Capital
Hometown: Presque Isle, Maine
First job: Server, Skyline Chili in Cincinnati – Yum!
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You get to influence the strategy of the organization at the highest levels, broaden leadership skills and deepen your knowledge of the business/industry far beyond the legal realm.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Constantly cultivate your brand, both internally and externally. Every position provides new opportunities to add to the wonderful and unique story of your career. Don’t waste a minute of it!
Eric Reicin, Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, MorganFranklin, Inc. and MorganFranklin Consulting, LLC
Corporate Twitter Handle: @MorganFranklin
Hometown: Grew up in Highland Park, Illinois; lived in Potomac, Maryland, since 1995.
First job: A snowblowing service for neighbors starting when I was just 10 years old back in Chicago. I guess I ignored child labor laws back then.
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: Over the long term, where you want to practice law may depend upon what roles you enjoy most. I firmly believe that there are at least four different role types for in-house counsel: scribe, legal practitioner, trusted advisor, and business partner. Most outside counsel never serve in business partner roles, have limited trusted advisor roles, and spend much of their time as legal practitioners and sometimes scribes.
One of my more rewarding in-house experiences occurred this past year, when I combined all of these in-house counsel roles to work with our board and senior executive team to complete MorganFranklin’s formulation and conversion from a founder majority-owned/management minority-owned company to an ESOP.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: In addition to focusing on law school and your career, I think it is important to give back to your community. There are so many organizations and programs that can greatly benefit from the knowledge and skills you acquire throughout your legal career.
Jenny Lee Gillespie, General Counsel/Geeknet, Inc., more commonly known as “ThinkGeek”
Hometown: Born in Seoul, and then a bit of a vagabond until moving to the DC area 12 years ago.
First job: Sang a commercial/jingle for Rainbow Bread in the 4th grade; my parents made me buy encyclopedias with the royalties.
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: I don’t get that heavy sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach on Friday afternoons waiting to see if I’ll get the dreaded call/email which will require me to work all weekend.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Be nice and keep in touch with the people you meet. Who knows when one of those people could be a future client, colleague or boss?
Cliff Boeglin, Corporate Counsel, GetWellNetwork
First job: Analyst at GetWellNetwork
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You learn to see issues from the client's perspective, and provide practical, solution-focused advice.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Real responsibility trumps perceived prestige, so look for organizations where you can actually make a difference. It takes courage to be different, but nontraditional paths often provide the richest experience.
Deena Williamson, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Compliance Officer, IBEX Global
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
First job: McDonald’s: “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean”.
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You have the opportunity to practice law in many different subject areas (e.g., sales, marketing, public markets, finance, human resources, data security, compliance) all in a given day.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Do not let anyone tell you that going to law school is a waste of time. If you are a hard worker, diligent, ethical, and passionate, you will always find a rewarding job.
Matthew Norden, Deputy General Counsel, 2U
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
First job: Warehouse worker
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You can become the business decision-maker in many cases and you get to see the positive impact your advice has on the company
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Take calculated risks, and don't second guess yourself. Lawyers tend to be risk averse when making career decisions, and I think that can lead to getting stuck in careers that pay the bills, but are otherwise unfulfilling. If you have an opportunity with a company or cause that you're passionate about, pursue it.
Rishi Chhatwal, Executive Director – Senior Legal Counsel, AT&T Services, Inc.
Hometown: Toms River, New Jersey
First job: Computer Networking Tech
Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: The hours are better and you get to be fully involved in the day-to-day business issues.
The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Be flexible, and don’t be disappointed if you think you don’t fit into a law school “box” (litigation or transactional). There are many career paths, types of law, and opportunities out there to explore.