Nine Ways to Accelerate Your Career Growth and Job Search as a Chief Legal Officer or General Counsel

Many of my clients are Chief Legal Officers or General Counsel at public or private companies who want to know how to (1) expand the growth runway in their current role and/or (2) find a new role that better suits their growth trajectory. Often these two goals go hand-in-hand, especially if you can initiate further career-enhancing opportunities within your current organization while opportunistically being open to new roles externally. If you are a Chief Legal Officer or General Counsel and at a similar career juncture, here are some insights that may help you accelerate your career growth and/or job search.

Many of my clients are Chief Legal Officers or General Counsel at public or private companies who want to know how to (1) expand the growth runway in their current role and/or (2) find a new role that better suits their growth trajectory. Often these two goals go hand-in-hand, especially if you can initiate further career-enhancing opportunities within your current organization while opportunistically being open to new roles externally.

In other words, often it behooves you to do both: look for internal and external opportunities rather than rigidly treating internal growth and job search as an either/or proposition.

Portrait happy, smiling business man outdoors

If you are a Chief Legal Officer or General Counsel and at a similar career juncture, here are some insights that may help you accelerate your career growth and/or job search:

      1. Get plugged into the right networks. For example, many veteran CLOs and GCs take active steps to seek out potential successors. If you are on their radar screens as a contender, whether you are an internal or external candidate, you will be first in line when the transition occurs. Beyond that, remember that you will not only need to convince the CLO or GC who is currently in the role but also appeal to the CEO and Board of Directors.

      2. Get on the radar screen of recruiters. As an ancillary network-building activity, take the time to get to know the recruiters who are commonly involved with General Counsel searches. Recruiters work for companies, not candidates – a distinction that it serves you well to understand! – and therefore may not be actively pursuing you or overly responsive (although they should not simply ignore you) unless they have a role that fits.

        It’s your job to get in front of recruiters without becoming a pest (respect their time!), continue to be polite and responsive yourself (even if you feel desperate or entirely overwhelmed at any given moment) and make sure that you have done the work to polish and present yourself as a compelling candidate rather than expecting the recruiter to figure out what to do with you.

      3. Dust off your resume, LinkedIn profile and interviewing skills. If you do intend to conduct (or find yourself in) a job search, or you wish to target a key promotion, make sure you have put yourself together as a compelling “package.” (This echoes what I listed in #2 above.)

        At the very least, review your resume to make sure it reflects your current accomplishments and communicates them in a clear manner. Not only does this help you have a “better” resume, but it also gives you a lens to focus on the value you have brought to your organization and what you can expect to contribute in the future. Similarly, if you have not interviewed in over ten years, you should seek to sharpen your executive presence and interviewing skills, whether you are interviewing with your own board of directors (for an internal promotion) or a new one (for an external role).

      4. Know how Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel searches are conducted. If you wish to be viewed as the top candidate, it behooves you to know what your audience is looking for. Admittedly some companies do not have a good handle on their own hiring priorities, even for a role as important as CLO or GC, and you will need to fill in the gaps for them (or avoid taking those roles). Others are cognizant of best practices and conduct a highly organized and effective search.

      5. Know what Boards of Directors, CEOs and other senior management want from their Chief Legal Officers and General Counsel. Whether it is through informational interviewing, informal discussions, mentoring or your own due diligence, make sure that you understand what is expected of a CLO or GC while serving in the role.

      6. Consider adjacent roles. Within your own company or at a new one, consider how you can take on business and other roles that will expand your range of influence and subject matter domain. Examples abound and include running a business line within the organization, serving on the board of a branch or subsidiary, heading up government affairs, leading a high-profile initiative or serving as an interim in another C-Suite role, such as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Sustainability Officer or even Chief Executive Officer. If you need more robust industry or subject matter expertise, emotional intelligence or caché to take on such a role, go out and get it!

      7. Envision yourself as a C-Suite leader, not just a lawyer. Just as you need to do the work to know your value proposition and polish your brand before speaking with a recruiter, you also need to do the work to wrap your head around the business and how you can add value as a member of senior leadership. Invariably my clients who see themselves in this light – rather than “the lawyer in the room” – are the ones who are more successful at attracting sponsors and other upward mobility and achieving marketability in their careers.

      8. Enlarge your circle of possibilities while respecting your own guiding principles. Know what your priorities are and plan your career around that. For example, if you feel that you need to stay in the Chicago or Nashville area for another five years, understand how that affects your career choices and target your decisions on where to build out your expertise to match the market. Ask yourself: how wide of a circle can I draw so that I don’t foreclose opportunities while continuing to meet my own personal commitments and values?

        For example, if you are currently in Nashville but ultimately want to return to Boston, Miami or San Francisco, can you create or strengthen ties to that target city now that will facilitate your transition when the time is appropriate? Alternatively, you may decide that a top role in Wisconsin, Indiana or Michigan is sufficiently close to the Chicago area to honor your commitment to stay local, depending on the reason that you have made this a priority. Even if you are truly open, geographically or otherwise, make sure that the role continues to meet your other priorities.

      9. Build out your reputation beyond your current company. Don’t become so focused on the “problems at hand” that you forget to build out your leadership credibility and network beyond your current organization. Set aside some time (for example, 5% to 10% of your total professional energy) to make this happen, and choose your engagements well so that they are meaningful to you and impactful on the community or other target audience.


Anne Marie Segal
is an
executive coach, resume writer and author of two well-received books on interviewing and career development. She served as a corporate attorney for 15 years, including roles at White & Case LLP and a prominent hedge and private equity fund manager, before launching her coaching practice. She is also currently serving as the Conference & Workshop Facilitator for PODER25 General Counsel pipeline initiative of the Hispanic National Bar Association and HNBA Via Fund.

Anne Marie Segal

Based in Connecticut not far from New York City, Anne Marie partners with clients internationally on executive presence, impactful communications, graceful transitions and other aspects of professional and personal development. 

First image above: Adobe Images.

Accelerating Your Job Search as a Junior Law Firm Associates Targeting an In-House Counsel Role

Handsome businessman smiling outside the office building

A client and friend of mine, who is a relatively recent law graduate (let’s call him Jamie), feels like he is running out of steam and options. He has now worked at two mid-sized law firms and encountered the same issues at both of them:

(1) lack of real training or diversified work,

(2) disinterest by the partnership in developing his (or others’) careers,

(3) false deadlines,

(4) extremely high stress,

(5) misrepresentations about the number of hours expected, and

(6) compensation that does not keep pace with the above demands.

Jamie has now set his sights on an in-house job, given the above as well as some personal health issues, which make the stress and hours even less bearable.

The common wisdom is that attorneys, once they are already at a firm, try to build up (and out) their experience until they hit the four or five-year mark. That way, they come into an in-house role ready to add value, hopefully possessing some business skills, an expertise in an area of demand and/or solid corporate generalist skills. In other words, they have more to offer an employer and less need to be trained from the ground up.

But sometimes, the common wisdom fails.

For Jamie and others who are not getting the benefit of the law firm bargain, they may feel like they have little incentive to stay. They will not be significantly more prepared after two, three or four more years with a firm. They may handle very little work that is relevant to a future in-house role. Further, their commitment to practicing law, self-image and physical health can erode very quickly in the macho, every-lawyer-for-themselves environment that embodies many current law firms.

Here’s my job search advice for Jamie and other junior lawyers in this situation:

(1) Meet in-house lawyers, in-house recruiters and business people. Broaden and leverage your network, and invest your networking time in individuals who can and are motivated to make connections for you. Start with people you already know and ask them who else they know. Keep this priority going and find a way to organize yourself around the effort so you can use your time efficiently.

If, like Jamie, you face both health concerns and limited free time, see if there is a way to make these connections in a recreational setting, if those connections have similar interests and goals. Meet for rock climbing instead of drinks, for example, all things being equal. Or choose a scenic city walk over a sedentary coffee. If you are connecting by phone, consider standing or walking in place (if you can keep your concentration going) to get some blood flowing.

(2) Figure out what skills your need to land the right jobs and find a way to get them. Job descriptions are the first step informationally in that regard, but also look to online articles, company websites, conferences and the information you can glean from your network. (See #1 above.)

Your skill-acquisition may well include specialized skills that are highly relevant to in-house roles, such as privacy and cybersecurity. This could be through a formal certification program (such as CIPP) or simply by taking a seminar in, for example, GDPR. Other legal skills, such as contracts, employment law, litigation and compliance are always helpful. If you can round out your skills, it will serve you well in most in-house legal departments.

(3) Find ways to take on leadership roles. Find internal and/or external opportunities to grow your leadership capacity, a key competency for any in-house attorney. Whether you follow the in-house road up to General Counsel or take a detour, consider what organizations value in their GCs and set your compass accordingly. Roles in non-profit or professional organizations, such as the ACC or a bar association, can provide valuable opportunities to grow both your network and your leadership skills. So can smaller commitments, such as helping organize an event or CLE. Over time, these organizations may also offer the chance to build out your public speaking or writing skills, which can double as thought leadership and help distinguish you from other junior lawyers.

(4) Launch a job search and personal branding campaign. As you are retooling your skills and redirecting your value proposition toward your new audience, take a look at your LinkedIn profile and resume to make sure they (a) reflect what you can offer to future employers, (2) include your certifications and special skills and (3) align with what you will say about yourself in an interview. If you reasonably confident that it won’t have a negative impact on your current role, consider turning on Open Candidates and populating it to match your targets.

(5) Opportunistically consider alternate options. Even if transitioning to a role as in-house counsel is your main target, consider other opportunities if they arise or could be easily pursued (without overtaxing your available time) and they represent areas in which you would enjoy growing your career. For some, this may mean being open to non-profit or government positions. For others, a hybrid business-law role might make more sense, if it fits their interests and strengths and they happen to have (or can create) the right connections.

(6) Get “smart” about what an in-house role is like, especially at your target organizations. Through online research, try to develop a composite picture of the range and scope in-house roles. For example, if you are a litigator, which organizations could make special use of your skills and how can you position yourself to get in front of them? Where can you get information about specific questions, such as compensation? How can you learn what it’s really like to work in a specific industry or company? Even if some of the insights you find are not geared toward lawyers, they can help you understand the mindset of your interviewers.

This inside knowledge will help you size up the move and calm your nerves. It also can help you avoid mistakes in the interview process by not making assumptions about in-house practice that do not match up to reality. Having some “street cred” – i.e., savvy about the environment you wish to enter – gives you a clear advantage over the competition and will ease your transition as well.

(7) Use job boards sparingly. A few job boards, such as the ACC’s In-House Jobline Listings, are geared directly toward in-house roles. LinkedIn, as well as other sites, also offers the opportunity to set a specialized search and let company recruiters know you are interested. (Start by setting up a job alert and then follow the prompts.) Yet even these specialized tools have their limitations and can be a large time investment for little reward, as hundreds if not thousands of candidates may apply for every role.

(8) Reach out directly to organizations that interest you and follow up any prior leads. As you are building out your networking connections, find ways to get to know people within organizations that interest you, so you can better understand the culture and business model (or mission, as the case may be) and be on the short list of candidates who are informed first when a role opens up. Have your pitches about “why you” and “why them” (i.e., what interests you about, and what value you can add to, this particular organization) ready to go for a cover letter, elevator pitch and/or interview. You never know when the call may come, so it pays to be ready when it does!

Feel free to make a comment, post a question or “like” this post below. Thanks!

Anne Marie Segal Post Banner

Anne Marie Segal is an executive coach, resume writer and author of two well-received books on interviewing and career development. She served as a corporate attorney for 15 years, including roles at White & Case LLP and a prominent hedge and private equity fund manager, before launching her coaching practice. Based in Connecticut not far from New York City, Anne Marie partners with clients internationally on executive presence, impactful communications, graceful transitions and other aspects of professional and personal development. 

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse here.

You may also like:

Eight Core Qualities of Successful General Counsel and How to Achieve Them

Get It Together: Organizing Your Job Search

Successful Career Transition, Stage 1: Start with a Creative Mindset



Should You Attach Your Resume to Your LinkedIn Profile?

Have you often wondered if you should attach your resume to your LinkedIn profile? Maybe it would help boost your job search?


Why not?

1) If your home address is on it – which it shouldn’t be; only use city, state and zip or equivalent – you are putting your information at risk for identity theft.

2) You also may find (or never know) that people are borrowing your information and creating a resume that is essentially a copy of yours with another name on it. Because they do not need to post that publicly – unlike a LI profile – they can secretly trade on your goodwill and dilute your brand.

3) If you have one form of resume posted on LinkedIn and bring another (targeted) resume to an interview, you may compromise your credibility (i.e., if the two versions do not to match).

In other words, you will have less control of your personal branding in the interview because your audience will have already seen your resume. They may not even read a new one.

Instead of attaching a resume, put the important information and keywords directly into your profile, so the LinkedIn algorithm can do its work to match you to the right jobs.

Website Anne Marie Segal 2019 Barragan Square Say CheeseFor more LinkedIn tips, click here.

To find or follow me on LinkedIn, click here.

– Anne Marie Segal, Executive Coach

Image of Anne Marie: Copyright 2019 Alejandro Barragan IV. All rights reserved. 

Remaining images: Adobe Images.

Want to Know More About LinkedIn®? For UChicago Alumni and Guests: Webinar on Thursday, March 14, 2019

If you want to get up to speed quickly on a range of topics related to LinkedIn, I am presenting a one-hour webinar this Thursday for The University of Chicago’s Alumni Association.

It’s called LinkedIn for Job Search, Networking and Career Building, and it’s free for UChicago alumni and invited guests (including you!) with the link.

Is LinkedIn a platform that you want to make work for you, but you haven’t had time to figure out how to do that?

Do you struggle to write your LinkedIn profile?

Are you worried that you may be missing opportunities because you are not more active on LinkedIn?

Do you want to know how recruiters use LinkedIn’s powerful search features, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning?

Asian businesswoman in formal suit working with computer laptop for Polygonal brain shape of an artificial intelligence with various icon of smart city Internet of Things, AI and business IOT concept


If you want to get up to speed quickly on a range of topics related to LinkedIn, I am presenting a one-hour webinar this Thursday, March 14, 2019, for The University of Chicago’s Alumni Association.

It’s called LinkedIn for Job Search, Networking and Career Building, and it’s free for UChicago alumni and invited guests (including you!) with the link.

Thursday, March 14, 2019
12:00 pm CST
Cost: Free



LinkedIn is simply the most powerful online tool for job search and career building today, and it keeps evolving. In this webinar, executive coach and writer Anne Marie Segal discusses how to build your credibility and opportunities on LinkedIn, including profile writing styles, job search tools and tactics, networking strategies, thought leadership and profile optimization in the age of artificial intelligence.

This hands-on presentation includes content-rich slides and handouts to illustrate advanced functionality and help you leverage the LinkedIn platform to move your career forward.

For more information or to register, click HERE.


For more workshops and webinars by Segal Coaching LLC, please visit:

To view prior UChicago webinars, please click on one of the videos below:



First image above: Adobe Images.

Mind Your Career logo: copyright 2019 The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

How to Prepare for a Second Interview – What’s Different than the First?

AdobeStock_83147118 (interview prep).jpg

If you are moving onto a second interview with the same company, congratulations! You have passed through the gatekeepers and are now poised to refine your presentation and move one step closer to getting the job.

So what changes in the second round and how should you prepare yourself differently than for the first interview?

Often companies use further interviews to introduce you to more people, ferret out any concerns, check for consistency (from one interview to the next) and gauge your overall energy level, interest in and fit for the job. They may also present you with new challenges, such as behavioral questions (e.g., “Tell me about a time when…”).

Here are some of the key ways I suggest you prepare for a second interview:

  1. Research any concepts, other companies, approaches or themes presented in the first interview you did not understand or with which you were not familiar.

    For example:

    – a business line, product or service that is new to you
    – a partner or competitor that is significant to the company
    – a type of organizational structure (e.g., matrixed organizations)
    – a certain leadership approach or management style

  2. Reread the job description and make sure you can address all aspects of it.

    Job seekers often have a tendency to focus on certain aspects of a role – the ones that they find more interesting – and assume that the rest will fall into place. You do not need to know every aspect of the job before you even start – and in some cases there will be considerable ramp-up or stretch goals – but you do need to be able to formulate a plan of how you will learn what you don’t know.

    For example, if the job description indicates that you will interact with the Board of Directors or manage a team of 100 direct reports, and you are lacking one or both of these skills in your background, be ready to explain (without sounding defensive) what you have done that is analogous or prepares you for it. In the absence of any related background, you can also build out from what you have learned.

    For example:

    “As you know, I have managed teams of 20, and a good portion of my day is already spent on leadership-building, evaluating and mentoring team members. I’ve spoken with a few of the senior managers in my network, and they have told me that some of the adjustments between managing 20 and 100 are [fill in with some wisdom you have learned]….”

    Half of the battle is to sound upbeat and ready to rise to the task and suffer any growing pains gracefully. Yes, this may nonetheless be a breaking point for your candidacy, but you cannot create experience that doesn’t exist. You can only give it your best shot.

  3. Learn more about management and any interviewers you expect to meet.

    You have likely done some of this diligence before the first interview, but it is good to refresh yourself for the second time around and also check whether what you see presented online matches your view of a company based on what you have learned in the interview and through your additional research and connections.

    LinkedIn® and other online sources provide a great deal of information, as many company CEOs and marketing and recruiting leaders have released videos or articles discussing their goals for the company and talent acquisition. Find out what you can from these sources.

    In addition, become a “mini-expert” on the people who will interview you. You don’t need to know their shoe size or most recent vacation spot – of course! – but you should find out basic information to understand their perspective of the world and what they may want from a candidate.

    For example:

    Do their values match with yours?

    How do they see the firm’s culture and do they participate in creating it? 

    What is their leadership or management style?

    What or whom might you have in common? 

    What topics should you avoid discussing?

    How can you build a bond?

    As an example of the above, I worked with a job candidate on interview prep, and we discovered that her interviewer placed a strong value on diversity. We crafted her “tell me about yourself” story – which was entirely authentic, or it would not have been appropriate – to include the fact that (1) she had moved to the U.S. from Europe at a young age and (2) she was looking for an environment where there were people from many different backgrounds and perspectives. (Yes, she got the job!)

    This candidate had not initially thought of herself as “diverse” but we reframed her perspective, and I believe she will take this larger point of view with her into the job and life going forward.

  4. Be ready for multiple interviewers simultaneously (the panel interview.)

    Another common strategy companies employ in a second interview is to engage you with multiple interviewers at the same time. Some keys here are:

    Remember it’s a conversation, even if it feels like a panel inquiry

    – Show that you are able to relate to multiple people at once

    – Address and show respect for everyone in the room, even if only one person is asking questions (especially if the person leading the meeting is the “boss” and the others will be your colleagues; you don’t want to give the impression that their opinions are not important)

    – Pay extra attention to your body language, as the second or third person may be watching you closely (i.e., facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact)

    – Give consistent answers and don’t falter if challenged (which is different than thoughtfully revising an answer based on new information)

  5. Prepare follow-up questions to decide whether the job is a fit for you.

    At this second interview, you want to ask what I sometimes call “stage- appropriate” questions to understand fit. That means you can ask more in-depth questions on some aspects of the job than the first stage, but tread lightly on other topics.


    I worked recently with a candidate who was encouraged to hear that the office closes early on Fridays but discouraged to note that there seems to be a “difficult person” with whom she will be working closely. We formulated a plan to address the latter but determined that she should save any questions about the workday – do they actually leave at lunchtime every Friday? – until a later stage or (possibly) after the offer.

    On word of a difficult colleague or other negative aspect of the job, I suggest approaching it from a place of curiosity rather than negativity.

    So if Kendra says Lisa is difficult, ask Tomas if he knows more about how you’ll be working with Kendra and what he knows about her rather than seeking confirmation if she is difficult as Kendra would have you believe.

    You also will want to understand – if it hasn’t been explained already – how your group relates to each other and the rest of the company, what success will look like in this role and what you’ll be expected to complete on a daily and long-term basis.

  6. Plan how you’ll clarify any “loose ends” from the prior interview. 

    If your first interview generally went well except that you floundered on a certain answer, be ready to circle that topic back into the conversation in a positive way.

    You may, for example, say that you were reflecting on your earlier conversation and have more to add about a certain question. It could be how you would approach a certain situation or whether you have experience in a certain area.

    Make sure your additional information puts you in a confident light, rather than sounding worried or apologetic. You do not wish to dwell on the point, only supplement and clarify. In addition, address this topic at an appropriate point so you don’t break the flow of the new conversation. For example, if the interviewer asks if you have any questions, you might say, “Do you mind if I expand on something we discussed last time…?” If you have already addressed the topic in a thank you note, you don’t need to revisit it again.

  7. Rehearse situational or behavioral questions.

    As I mentioned above, you may be asked hypotheticals about how you would approach a certain situation or prompted to tell the interviewer “about a time when” you rose to a certain challenge, faced an ethical concern, needed to break bad news or otherwise.

    I discuss how to approach behavioral questions in this podcast, if you have time to review that before your meeting. If not, keep in mind a few key points:

    – Choose situations that speak to the call of the job

    – Have your top accomplishments in mind and pull from those where possible

    – Do not betray confidences of your current or former company

    – Remember that every interview question is a version of “why should I hire you?”  and speak to that

  8. Drive home your value proposition.

    If you do nothing else, have a clear statement of value proposition and be ready to work it into the meeting.

    What are the three or four key reasons you are the one to hire? What do you offer that they need – in terms of soft and hard skills, knowledge and talents?

    Turn back to the preparation you have done for the points above. What does the company need – more generally and from someone in this role – and how can you deliver it?

    If you need more help formulating a personal value proposition, please refer to my worksheets here.

    The second interview is an exciting time! Best of luck!

    Anne Marie Segal - Web Image (Credit Alejandro Barragan IV)

    Anne Marie Segal is an executive coach, resume writer, Forbes Coaches Council member, former practicing attorney and author of two highly-praised books on interviewing and career development.

    Image credit: Adobe Stock.






Three Things You Need to Get Right in an Executive Job Search

business people group at office

If you are an executive who has been slogging along at a job search without a strategy, you can feel like you have hit quicksand with no way to get out.

Stop wasting time on what doesn’t matter. There are three things you need to get right:

  1. Know Yourself – have the self-awareness to realize your strengths, preferences, work style and skill gaps
  2. Know Your Audience – understand how to present yourself to the right people in the right way
  3. Reach and Convince Decision Makers – find and persuade them to hire you or create an opportunity for you

These three “pillars” of your search can guide your direction and help you invest your precious job search hours in activities that will pay off.

I detail these three essential job search elements in my recent article on Forbes (click here) and give in-depth guidance to help you get to the bottom of them in my book, Know Yourself, Grow Your Career: The Value Proposition Workbook (click here), including an entire chapter on personal branding.

amsegal-0111-croppedAnne Marie Segal is an executive coach, resume strategist, Forbes Coaches Council member and former practicing attorney. She is the author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals and Know Yourself, Grow Your Career: The Personal Value Proposition Workbook (available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and local booksellers). To reach her, click here.

Image credit: Adobe Stock.


Two Book Giveaways on Goodreads

If you are on Goodreads, here’s a chance for U.S. readers to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of one of my books:

Know Yourself, Grow Your Career: The Value Proposition Workbook

Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals

To learn more about my books, you can visit my Amazon Author Page at

Two Books

%d bloggers like this: