Alumna Caroline Kenny gave The University of Law students a brilliant insight into the working world and how to build a successful career during a talk at our Guildford campus on Tuesday evening.
Caroline Kenny with ULaw studentsCaroline Kenny with ULaw students
Caroline, associate counsel at Facebook, talked about the differences between working at a law firm and working in-house for a company.
She pointed out that one in five working lawyers now worked in-house. She said the hours were still long but slightly kinder than at a law firm. There was also more possibility of working flexibly and working from home.
“In-house you work with people who are not lawyers. Business executives don’t want long legal explanations, they want two things. What’s the issue and what’s the solution. I always say I’m here to advise not make the decision. But the company boss will, more often than not, say if you were me what would you do?” said Caroline.
“If you work for a smaller business you might be expected to work on many areas of law. No-one can be an expert in every area of law and you might only have a small budget to spend instructing specialist lawyers.”
Caroline trained at a law firm for 18 months before moving in-house. She said it was important for students to “work their careers” using networks, never burning bridges and being nice to everyone.
She explained students would need to be confident and competent, able to understand the issue and find the solution quickly for clients. Being eager and having a smile on your face even at 11pm was also necessary to get on in your career.
“Everyone’s heard the horror stories of lawyers eating takeaways in the office late at night with their colleagues. To a certain extent this is true in-house and at law firms. But you are compensated in other ways. Our profession is fun and well paid.
“Law firms and in-house employers want strong, confident, opinionated people but in the right way. And they want them to be quick. The Facebook mantra is a good one and I’ve taken it on myself – move fast and fix everything,” added Caroline.
She advised students wanting a career with a big tech giant to seek a training contract with firms that deal with technology businesses. There are firms the likes of Facebook use regularly and students should do the research and target these firms.
She said there were good opportunities for lawyers in data protection, intellectual property and employment law.
“Don’t forget you are a service provider. An enabler not a blocker. You have to understand the issue and find the solution quickly for your client or company,” said Caroline.
For more on Caroline Kenny, see her Set for Success profile.