To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
A Good Time To Have ACC In My Life
There are many reasons why so many in-house counsel join the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). Some join to access ACC's outstanding on-line and print resources such as InfoPAKs, Sample Forms & Policies, and ACC Docket. Others join for its high-quality MCLE programs, while still others join to benefit from its strong advocacy programs such as the Value Challenge. Oftentimes overlooked on the list of reasons to join ACC is the opportunity to engage in old-fashioned networking. That is where ACC's chapters - in our case, the Southern California Chapter - are uniquely positioned to deliver. Although all networking is not local (in fact, it seems as of late much more of it has become electronic), the quality and character of networking opportunities seem to be highest when the networking is in-person and in your own backyard. ACCA-SoCal offers in-house attorneys throughout our region over 50 local events throughout the year (almost all of which are absolutely free) to attend, build relationships and expand personal networks.
Why is it important to develop relationships and expand networks? Here is one personal example. In January of this year, my boss (the general counsel) walked into my office to deliver a not-completely-surprising but nonetheless jarring piece of news: my in-house position was being eliminated at the end of February. My company had been struggling mightily for a few years and had gone through several rounds of layoffs, so I knew that additional layoffs - even affecting the upper levels of the company - were a possibility. When it's happening to you, however, it still hits you like a ton of bricks. I told myself that at least I was getting a separation package for my nine years of service and cashing out my unused vacation, both of which would provide me with some breathing room. That night, I worked on my resume (in addition to some serious prayer), and I broke the news to my wife. I opted to wait on telling my two small kids and our dog. The next day, I began the process of finding my next in-house counsel job. It would become my first job search since I graduated from law school back in the '90s!
I knew that one of my secret weapons was going to be ACCA-SoCal. I have been active with the chapter for many years and have made many wonderful friends who work in-house, at law firms, and at companies serving the legal industry. I began getting out the word to a group of friends and acquaintances about my situation. I also sought counsel from a friend who recently had found an in-house position after an extended search. This friend helped me become more effective in my job search, allowing me to stand on the shoulders of the knowledge he had accumulated during the time he was in transition. Not only was he giving of his time and recommendations, but he also made the effort to introduce me to a group of his own contacts.
I followed up on the leads provided to me by my network of friends, and I also combed through job boards - including ACC's In-House Jobline - and submitted resumes. I contacted career-specialists/head-hunters who place in-house counsel. Within a few weeks, I began to get some interest from potential employers and was invited to interview with a few of them. By the end of February I had received multiple offers for in-house positions in Southern California, and so far things have worked out very well at Cisco Consumer Products, whose offer I ultimately accepted.
Much of the success of my job search I attribute to the strength of my ACCA-SoCal network of friends. In fact, I can trace each of the job offers I received back to either a friend that I made through ACCA-SoCal or the ACC In-House Jobline. In other words, but for ACC, I am not sure that I would have found an in-house job so soon or at all.
So, what does networking within ACCA-SoCal mean? It means showing-up for events, which can be the biggest challenge in light of the busy lives we all lead. It also means finding connections with people, whether in the form of common acquaintances, work experiences, or something else. Most of all, it means finding out the needs of others and helping as many people as you can - helping by sharing information, following through on what you say, giving support, being optimistic, volunteering to help with projects, providing referrals, serving on boards/committees, sending congratulatory notes, and generally making an effort to stay in-touch.
You never know when you will be forced to look for your next job, but if you do find yourself in that position, having ACCA-SoCal in your life can be an incredible asset. I hope to see you at ACCA-SoCal's events soon - I know I will be there trying to serve my network after receiving so much support from them!
Bernard A. Gaffaney