Marketing Yourself to Build an In-House Legal Career


I recently had the honor of serving as a speaker at a New York City Bar Association panel on how in-house counsel can develop their careers.

What does it take to build a successful career as an in-house counsel? Growing as an in-house attorney involves two pathways: moving up within your current company or moving out to move up somewhere else. Either process involves Marketing, something most lawyers find anathematic. Self-Marketing, however, is essential for a successful career as an in-house counsel.

Here are a few tips from the seminar on Self-Marketing For Lawyers Made Easy.

1) Make friends with the business people in your company.  Don’t just focus on your boss or the GC – build allies on the business side of your company. If there are ever cutbacks, the executives will cut the lawyers they don’t like before the lawyers they do like. And if there’s growth and a need to create a new spot for a divisional GC, the execs will push for the lawyer they like to take on that role. To be the chosen one, break down the wall that often exists between the legal department and the business team.

2) Learn about your company’s business. How do they provide their product or service? What is the competitive set? What are the business issues facing your company and your industry? Where are the opportunities? The challenges? You should do lunches or have coffee with the Department Heads. Tell them you’d like to learn about what they do, and what they must deal with every day. Show them you care!

3) Get visible in your current or targeted industry. Often to move up, an in-house lawyer needs to move to another company. This process can be facilitated by getting on the radar screens of organizations in which you may be interested. How? Join a LinkedIn group of professionals in an industry of interest. Contribute articles and comments. Join a professional association in your targeted industry, and be active in it. Let the business people in that industry get to know you and to see your value. The job offers will come!

4) Say “But Yes,” not ‘Yes, But.”  Corporate executives don’t like lawyers because you often say say “No” to things they want to do but cannot do legally. “Sir, that’s a great idea, YES — BUT it violates regulation xyz….” We don’t want to hear that. What we want to hear is, “There are problems with regulation xyz, BUT YES, I think I can come up with a way around that problem.”  Can Do beats No Can Do every time.

5) Learn to become a business partner. That means picking an area outside of a legal issue that you can learn about. Why? So you can contribute ideas on how to make the company better. Take a course in marketing and learn about how your company can make better use of digital media. Get smarter on information technology so you suggest ways in which new software can be used to improve your company’s business processes. Don’t think your only value to the company is to deal with legal issues. You have a brain. Use it to help your business solve problems and seize opportunities.

Lastly, as a long-time observer of the legal career scene, I have seen that many lawyers think the way to build an in-house career is to schmooze with other lawyers. They get active in Bar Association committees in hopes that the attorneys they meet there will let them know about job opportunities. OK, not a bad idea. Being on Bar committees can be great for professional development, and because it makes a Bar Association stronger and more valuable to its members. It is a worthy and noble use of your time.

However … how many people on a Bar Committee can actually HIRE you? If you want to be a GC, the answer is ZERO. If you want to be a Deputy GC, there’d have to be a lot of GC’s on that committee for you to have a shot at getting hired by one of them. Mostly, the lawyers you’d be working with on Bar Committees are your COMPETITORS. If they are law firm attorneys, they probably want to go in-house. If they are in-house and want to move up, they’ll be gunning for the same jobs you are.

To be successful in building an in-house career, focus on the folks who can hire you!

If you are looking to move in-house, or are in-house and looking for a better opportunity, call me. We have more than 25 years of experience in career management for lawyers, and unrivalled expertise in the development of successful in-house legal careers.

Career Change or Alternative Career Consulting

Hi, I’m Bruce Blackwell.

When I founded Career Strategies back in 1992, it was for just one reason:
To help people find new jobs or new careers.

If you are an experienced attorney or executive interested in exploring your career options … we can help. If you want to discover what else is out there, we can help you find it.


If you would like to know how you can still make a good living but not have the law firm BS of billable hours and rainmaking, we can show you … and get you there. If you are in house and looking for a new job, or a government lawyer returning to the private sector, we can help you, too.

Over the years, we have helped the careers of several thousand attorneys and executives re-energize their careers. Many of our clients are age 50+ and are ready for new challenges. Our clients have gone into corporations, non-profits and universities. We have had clients go into sports and entertainment, travel, hi tech, publishing, and many other areas, some of which they often never even thought possible. If your quality of life stinks. If you are sick of billing 2400 hours a year. If you feel the work you are doing is no longer challenging or rewarding… then call us.

If you are unappreciated by your partners or clients (or both!) … if you want to feel like you are doing something worthwhile with your career … then you owe it to yourself to get in touch. Attorney or executive — We can help you find what’s right for you, then help you get it. If any of this sounds good and you’d like to find out more, give us a call today.


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Career Paths For Our Clients

Career Strategies clients have moved into a variety of alternative legal careers.
Other than having JDs and certain shared characteristics resulting from law school
training and the facts-of-life in the legal profession, each client is different and has
his or her own muse. Career Strategies “graduates” have gone into such diverse
areas as those shown below.

Public Relations, Telecommunications Operations, Construction Management,
Travel Writer/Photographer, Entrepreneurs, TV Station Management, Fund-Raising,
Non-Profit Agency Management, Legal & Business Affairs, Strategic Planning,
Employee Relations, Financial Services Operations, Investment Sales,
Real Estate Development, Management Consulting, Sporting Goods – Exec. Mgt.,
International Affairs, Technology Procurement, University Administration,
Sales and Sales Management, Sports Promotion, Healthcare Administration,
Risk Management, Government Agency Administration, Event Planning,
Conference Management, Retail Operations, Government Relations, Public Affairs,
Compliance/Ethics, Investment Banking, International Corp. Finance, Marketing,
General Counsel, Project Management, Chief Operating Officer, Broadcasting,
Labor Relations, Environmental Affairs, Bank – Trust Officer, Private Law Practice,
Law Practice but new area of Law, Recruiting, Author, Chef, Restauranteur,
Educational Outreach, Community Affairs, Finance & Administration, Affiliate Relations,
Key Accounts, Business Management, Talent Agent, Teaching, Relationship Management,
Film Production

Fields include: Banking, Broadcasting, Aerospace, Healthcare, Non-Profit Agencies
and/or Associations, Construction, Real Estate, Financial Services, Universities and
Colleges, Manufacturing, Insurance, Government, Military, Computers,
Telecommunications, Advertising and Promotion Agencies, Sporting Goods Companies,
Human Resource Consulting firms, Publishers, Defense Contractors, Merchant Banks,
Hotel & Leisure and many, many more

career strategies group

Regardless of their backgrounds, our clients share a desire to explore alternative careers
that are either far removed from their current professions, or their experience is applied
in new and more rewarding ways.

We can help you determine your viable career alternatives and career options, and then
our career coaching professionals can provide the resources, information, techniques,
job search strategies, life coaching guidance and tools necessary to help you achieve
your career objective and land a great new attorney job or executive position.

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Got a difficult problem in your job or your job/career search?
Do you have a lack of networking contacts?
Trouble answering interview questions?

Good news: You can solve your job search problems today,
simply by contacting Career Strategies Group.

Watch the video, then email us or give us a call.


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11 Ideas for Job Searching During the Holidays

Here are some specific strategies you can use in your holiday job search.

Accept all invitations you receive for holiday parties and get-togethers

Whether it’s a social or charity event, dinner party, spouse’s Christmas party, or professional association event, use these opportunities to reacquaint yourself with people who might be useful in your job search, and make new connections. Be sure to follow-up

Re-connect with old friends and colleagues

Your network can be a great source of information, job leads, and referrals. Get back in touch with previous co-workers and supervisors, high school and college people, former neighbors, etc.

Host your own holiday party

It doesn’t have to be anything formal or elaborate. Hosting your own holiday open house, dinner party,
or get-together can help jumpstart your job search (but that shouldn’t be the focus of your party, of course!). However, extending an invitation is a great excuse to reach out and talk with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while!

Ask for specific information or help

For example, ask if the person knows anyone who works at “x” company instead of asking if they know of anyone hiring. During the holidays, your contacts might have more time to be of assistance, and they might be in a mood to be generous at this time of the year!


There are many opportunities during the holidays to give your time to charities and organizations. Some of these opportunities might also help you build your network, make new connections, and bolster your résumé.

Use holiday cards to connect

If Christmas cards, holiday letters, and e-greetings are part of your end-of-the-year tradition, mentioning your job search (if you’re currently unemployed, or your position is ending) can be a useful strategy. Let people know you’re looking!

Create a business networking card

Develop a business card that lists your contact information and social media links — especially to your LinkedIn profile. You can use this in lieu of your normal business card — or instead of it, if you’re unemployed

Update your social media presence

If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create yours. If you have one, give it a fresh look. Is it time to update it? Can you increase your number of Connections — or solicit additional Recommendations?

Look for opportunities to get your foot in the door

If you’re currently unemployed, look for temporary or seasonal jobs that may lead to full-time positions.

Connect with recruiters

Many are trying to reach year-end recruiting goals at this time of the year, and you may have just the skills they are looking for.

Set a specific goal for your job search

Instead of setting a goal to get a new job, your goal might be to make a certain number of new connections or to schedule a certain number of informational interviews. Making progress on this type of goal will ultimately help you achieve your goal of a new job.

Make sure you’re reachable

You might be asked to interview at unusual times — for example, the day before Christmas. Keep your phone on — and make sure you’re checking your voice mail and email regularly!

5 Ways to Give Your Resume a Makeover

career strategies groupThis is from an article just published by and MSN.

(We were among the resume experts from around the U.S. who were interviewed.)

Fashion and what’s in style change over time—and so should your résumé. What may have been a trendy way to format five or 10 years ago could now be considered outdated. And with technology changing how jobs are found and applied for, being current is more crucial to your job search than ever. Whether you’re just putting together your résumé or feel like your job search is in a rut, take the time to update your résumé’s look with these five tips.

Swap out-dated categories for modern information

Résumés used to serve as a very different form of introduction than today. While hiring managers used to wonder who you were and what you were looking for, as well as if anybody could vouch for you, today’s hiring process is much more streamlined. “Today, like the understanding of the unspoken objective, everyone knows that a job candidate will provide references when and if they advance to the next stage of the hiring
process,” says Karen Southall Watts, business coach, consultant and author.

Instead, find a way to use your résumé’s valuable space more wisely. “The top third of your résumé is prime real estate and should not be home to something as obvious and outdated as an objective statement,” says Watts. “The reader already knows you are looking for a job like the one advertised. It’s better to put a personal branding statement or skills summary in this key area.” Below your contact information, write a short summary of your achievements, years of experience and highlight your skills.

Use the latest technology to your advantage

When designing your résumé, keep in mind both who and what will be receiving it. Bruce Blackwell, managing partner of Career Strategies Group in White Plains, NY, says, “Rule number one is to keep your design simple! Make sure it is compatible with the résumé database programs used by employers and recruiters. Called applicant tracking systems, these programs electronically ‘read’ incoming résumés, parse their keywords and slot them into a database file. Résumés with headers on the name and address lines, with bullet points in the contact area, with fancy lines and other graphic effects, often cannot be read and end up in the garbage.”

Having more than one format of your résumé is crucial to your search. Watts says, “There should be a résumé that works no matter where you need it to go: A printed paper version for traditional employers, a PDF version that can be scanned and a hyperlinked version that ties to samples of your work or your social media links.”

Skip the buzzwords and instead give specific results

Instead of describing yourself as the most hard-working, creative, talented team-player, quantify your success and include achievements in your work experience section. Michelle Proehl, president of Slate Advisers in Sunnyvale, CA, says, “Emphasize specific actions and the results achieved. For instance, saying that you ‘Identified $1M in administrative cost savings that enabled the sales team to add headcount’ is far
more powerful than ‘Conducted analysis of division financial plan and budget.’”

Abby Kohut, human resources executive, recruiter and author of “Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets,” says, “Avoid buzzwords designed to sweeten your résumé, but don’t really hold any meaning. With more companies relying on computers to vet résumés before sending to hiring managers, it’s crucial to weave the appropriate keywords into your résumé and professional online profiles. Learn the difference between a buzzword
and a keyword, and your résumé will rise to the top on the stack.”

Give context to your experience

While you may know what your past places of employment did or believe a company name is big enough to be recognized, hiring managers may not. Jon Mazzocchi, partner and general manager in the accounting and finance search division at Winter Wyman, a recruitment firm in Waltham, MA, says it’s crucial to give context
to your past employment and what the business did. “Even if the hiring manager is familiar with your past employers, it is a good idea to point out the similarities between those companies and the one you hope to join. Similarities in size, culture, and industry definitely help.”

Give every detail a professional polish

To avoid quickly being discarded, triple-check your résumé for errors and be sure you’re presenting yourself as a professional. When it comes to getting in touch with you, Watts says it’s important to give multiple contact methods. “It’s highly unlikely that HR is going to send you a letter in the mail. Your résumé should include a phone number, an email, your social media links if you use them professionally and your website if you have one.” Laurie Morse-Dell, personal branding coach in Bismarck, ND, adds, “Make sure you have a professional email address. If your email is or could be perceived as vulgar, cutesy, juvenile or cheesy, get a new one.”

Most importantly, your résumé and all content included should recommend you as a qualified candidate for the job who exudes professionalism and capability. By taking the time to put your best résumé forward, you’re sure to create a great first impression.

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and the best coaching in the business — to help you
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    Training and Management Development Programs

    career strategies group business solutionsHelping your Business Grow

    We offer a variety of training and management development programs for law firms, corporations, academic institutions and non-profits. Programs are available for groups and for individuals.

    A selection of our programs includes:

    How to generate more revenue for your law practice or business
    Improving operational procedures to maximize profits
    Team building in a competitive practice
    Business planning to improve cash flow

    For over 20 years, our team of business consultants has been helping individuals and organizations achieve more than they thought was ever possible.  Our advisors use their experience as attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs to help legal professionals, entrepreneurs and business executives create and follow their roadmap to success.

    We help attorneys and business owners design and execute strategies to so that:

    The Practice grows. This is about finding new clients and adding more matters from the existing client base. We teach strategies and tactics that help clients “make it rain.”

    Billings turn into profits. Adding clients and billing hours doesn’t ensure a profit. We help clients run effective operations and turn top-line cash into bottom-line profits.

    There is value beyond the billable hour. Sometimes attorneys and other professionals want to move beyond their practice into other pursuits. This is about turning the business into something that can be transferred or just run effectively beyond the owners’ individual efforts.

    We custom design a unique roadmap for each client – focusing on the things they don’t teach you in law, business or medical school. Program elements can include:

    • Strategy & Planning. We help professionals develop their strategic vision and translate that to the daily tasks that can then be implemented. This is useful to all attorneys and professionals – from new associates who need to learn how to make it rain, to more senior attorneys or entrepreneurs who are thinking about buying or selling a business.
    • Marketing & Business Development. Attorneys and professionals need marketing and sales strategies tailored to their specific businesses. We use a “solutions approach” to make “good” referrals happen and increase your close rate. As a result of this program, our clients will understand (and practice) how to capture the unique aspects of their practice to secure the “right” clients.
    • Client Service & Retention: The bottom line is that most professions — law, medicine, dentistry, public relations, insurance or any other field — are service businesses. We help owners turn their clients into “Fans” who will refer more matters and become one of their “Promoters.”
    • Personal & Team Development: We help improve the business skills that are not taught in school but are essential to running a successful business. It is about developing the business owner and the team to work most effectively together.
    • Practice Development: Even the most effective sales and marketing won’t result in a profitable practice if the “Operations” side is leaking cash. We review of your operations to identify areas for improvement and gaps that need filling. Owners gain a fresh, outsiders’ perspective and learn how to plan to make change happen.

    A Personal Trainer for your Practice

    Coaching is like having a personal trainer to help you reach your potential. Your coach helps you learn how to run a better practice by applying proven business principles to the unique nature of your profession.

    A good coach helps clients:
    Set clear and achievable business goals
    Develop a simple plan to get started
    Stay on–track and on-time
    Unlock and apply the business skills needed to succeed.

    Professional athletes use coaches and trainers to win on the field of competition. Today, more and more professionals and executives are using coaching to help them achieve their dreams.

    Contact us today for a free consultation.

    Career Strategies Group – Meet Our Team


    career strategies group - bruce blackwellManaging Partner and CEO, has advised Board Chairmen, Directors and CEOs of publicly held
    organizations on a variety of marketing and business development issues, and has discussed
    First Amendment issues over dinner at the White House. He is a former publishing, motion
    picture and broadcasting executive.  Early in his career, he was an award-winning editor
    and nationally syndicated columnist for Gannett Newspapers. He later became Vice
    President of Marketing for The People’s Choice cable TV network, and consultant for
    MTV and Showtime. He then transitioned into the motion picture industry, where he
    was Director of Marketing, Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs for New Line Cinema
    and Director of Publicity for MGM. While a Business Analyst with Marketing Corporation
    of America
    , Bruce consulted for companies like IBM, 3M, GE, Avon, Lorillard, and
    Burger King. 
    Subsequently, he was on the U.S. Executive Committee for BASYS, the
    world’s largest broadcast automation software development firm which provided
    newsroom systems for CNN, NBC, the BBC and countless others. Before founding
    Career Strategies, he had been a Branch Manager and Senior Consultant for two
    of the leading career development firms in the Northeast.

    A noted author and lecturer on career issues, Bruce is a charter member of the Career
    Management panel for the New York City Bar Association, and has been called “a leading
    career expert” by the New York State Bar Association. Blackwell has presented career guidance
    seminars for two annual meetings of the New York State Bar Association, and has presented
    career management seminars for the New York County Lawyers Association, the Association
    of Corporate Counsel, the New Jersey Bar Association, and many others. Some of his research
    into legal career areas has been published by the American Bar Association.  He also did a
    presentation on Alternative Legal Careers for the National Constitution Center, whose
    Scholarship Advisory Committee includes Law School Deans or Professors from Harvard,
    Stanford, Yale, the University of Texas, plus both Princeton, and Brown. Blackwell’s presentation
    was immediately followed by one made by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.

    Barbara Berger

    Career strategies group - barbara bergerConsultant and President of Career Wellness Partners, has more than 20 years of HR
    and managerial  experience in corporate, small business and entrepreneurial organizations
    and now runs a career transition practice in Pennsylvania. Barbara began her career in advertising,
    then transitioned into Human Resources. As a former Hiring Manager for an HR outsourcing
    company, she reviewed thousands of resumes and interviewed hundreds of candidates for
    executive-level positions. She has a BA in Communications and Journalism from Shippensburg
    University. Barbara earned her Certified Professional Coach and Certified Career Coach
    certifications at World Coach Institute. She is a member of the National Career Development
    Association, a hiring insights resource, a blogger for SAP’s Talent Connect platform,
    and was a presenter at the Lehigh Valley Society of Human Resource Management
    Conference in 2017 on “How to Turn Employee Career Ruts into Career Action Plans.”


    Nat Caputi, Ph.D

    Career strategies group - nat caputiConsultant and President of N.Caputi Associates,  has more than 30 years of career guidance
    experience. His background includes recruiting, outplacement, leadership training and personal
    career management. A noted author and lecturer, Dr. Caputi has authored the soon-to-be-
    published work, “Job Hunting: The Game and Playbook.” In addition to his work with
    Career Strategies, Dr. Caputi is a career advisor for Mullin International, a global outplacement
    firm, and maintains a private career guidance practice in Pennsylvania. He has worked across a
    wide range of industries, with particular experience in consumer products, the luxury and
    cosmetic sectors, HR, legal, aerospace and technology. Nat holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Human
    Behavior, Psychology and Religion from Drew University, and B.A. in Psychology from
    Fairleigh Dickinson. He was also in the Honors Program at the Boston College Business
    School. Dr. Caputi has provided career management and leadership training programs
    for Prudential.

    Career Strategies Group Team Members