DC's Trending 40 Corporate Counsel - Part 3

Thomas Cluderay, General Counsel, Environmental Working Group

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

First legal Job: Staff Attorney/Stabile Fellow, Environmental Working Group

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: Working in-house keeps each day varied, with opportunities to utilize a wide range of skill sets and wear multiple hats, always keeping an eye toward helping my organization maximize its impact.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Find as many opportunities as possible to develop real world legal experience, whether that’s through summer jobs and internships, or through clinics and externships. Network widely and often. If you come across someone established in your field of interest, don’t be shy about reaching out to them about coffee. Finally, consider taking administrative law, negotiations, and advanced classes in contract law.


Ama Romaine, General Counsel, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

Follow: @aromapro

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario (or Port-of-Spain, Trinidad)

First job: Cashier at IGA Grocery Store (Markham, Ontario)

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: When you are in-house, your clients do not pay for your services on an hourly basis. This means you have the opportunity to be better integrated with your clients, which means you can gain a much deeper understanding of business issues, risks and imperatives.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Preserve optionality to the greatest extent possible. Set very clear career goals, but remain flexible and embrace the inevitable and unforeseeable twists and turns of your career journey.


Adam Wegner, General Counsel and SVP, Corporate Development, Optoro, Inc

Follow: @adamwwegner

Hometown: Washington, DC

First job: Paperboy for the Washington Star, route was the Senate Office Buildings

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You get to work in a zoo with a menagerie of ever changing characters.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Get solid training right out of law school, find great mentors, and wherever that takes you, always find practical solutions for your clients and yourself.


Meet Andrea Shandell, Associate General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, Gannett

Follow: @AndreaShandell

Hometown: New Rochelle, NY

First job: After babysitting, camp counselor, receptionist, law clerk: associate for J. James McKenna, future Judge on the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: Sometimes the hand-holding is the most rewarding part of counseling.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Hang out at a trial court and see how both criminal and civil litigation work.


Chris Ryan, Deputy General Counsel, K12 International Academy

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

First job: Mowing neighbors’ lawns

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You’re part of the team, not a mercenary.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: If you want to pursue non-traditional opportunities to use your degree, don’t count on them to fall in your lap. You need to aggressively pursue those opportunities.


Robert Falk, General Counsel, Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation

Follow: @IamRobFalk

Hometown: Greensboro, NC

First job: Hospital Pathology Department Assistant

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You can solve the problem before it happens.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Get out of the office. Meet people. Help them along the way.


Laurence Grayer, General Counsel, Veterans Moving Forward, Inc.

Hometown: Cherry Hill, New Jersey

First job: Internship, U.S. Congressman H. James Saxton

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: The coffee is much better.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Fully understand what is expected from you and then strive to exceed those expectations. Your integrity should be unquestionable. Early on, develop positive professional relationships and always focus on protecting your clients.


Tamara Jack, Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary/ IRD-Blumont

Hometown: born in Tbilisi, Georgia, lived in the DC area since the early 90s

First job: Clerk at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in DC

Let’s be honest, it’s better to be in-house because: You are an insider. You have a seat at the table and get to shape your company’s business strategy and be an essential part of its mission.

The career advice you’d offer to a law school student: Work hard, constantly network, take business strategy and as many finance-related courses as possible.