Just wanted to pop in here and say hi! I am in my 15th (ohmygoodness) year of practice as a mergers and acquisitions attorney, now with the added responsibility of bank regulatory work. I had both of my children after going in house to a financial services company. A year after I started there (after 6 years in private, large law firm practice), my bank merged with another mega bank. Thank goodness, mega bank gave 12 weeks paid maternity leave!!! And had a law department practice of taking 6 mos of maternity leave. When my then-new manager asked me if I would be taking more time, I literally responded, "More time for what?" I was darn happy with the 12 weeks versus 6 of my pre-merger company. She then responded that she took 6 mos with each of her kids (who were now late high school, early college age if I'm not mistaken). Fortunately, my bonus was paid at the end of my paid leave, enabling me to pay for 12 additional weeks at home (my husband does not WOH). I was also able to do that with number 2.
I switched jobs last year at 40 and asked during the HR interview, just out of curiosity, no need to know since we were officially done with having kids, what the maternity policy is at my new bank. 6/8 weeks, disability pay. Well, here I am 41 and 10 weeks pregnant with number 3, and hoping my bonus will pay for the 12 weeks unpaid FMLA I'll definitely want to take. At least I'll be here all year to earn it!
Going in-house was definitely the best thing I ever did. I managed the change through a relationship I had with someone who was a managing director at the bank. She and I were in a salsa dancing company together. So, no, you don't have to play golf. The market for in-house jobs sucked at the time (it was early 2003). But, I firmly believed that my God would not allow me to remain miserable in my current position. And I wasn't going to another law firm (I was already on my second). My view was that I didn't need for there to be a ton of jobs available. I could only accept one. And I had enough faith to believe that there was at least one job available for me. I was bemoaning my situation one day and my friend asked if I wanted her to speak to someone in the law department. I said sure, secretly thinking there was no way I was going to document loan deals forever. That was my naive view of the law department in a bank. I called the contact and she gave me an overview of the law department. They did mergers and acquisitions in-house, so, that was right up my alley. No positions available at the time, though. Two weeks later, she called back to say that something had opened up. Yeah!!!! I interviewed, made it through a hiring freeze and finally started a few months later. I am not so naive as to think that my friend's recommendation did not play a role. She was a very well respected managing director at the company who had the ear of the CEO.
Fast forward to 2009. I had moved into a line of business position (from top of the house M&A) where I was supporting a retirment plan services business, providing general corporate and business support for the business, negotiating contracts and learning ERISA. The portion of the business I was supporting was being spun off, so, I had to find something new. I got the news in late November, early December. So, I went to the holiday events and told my friends I may be looking for something. In March, while waiting for an internal position I'd interviewed for to be green lighted, I received an email from one of those friends about a position. And here I sit today. With the internal position, I was going to be doing something new, again . . . which was interesting . . . but it was a function that was kind of compliance, not a lot of actual legal work, though. With this opportunity, I got to return to M&A and also have something new with the bank regulatory function.
So, work your connections, don't burn bridges, and never underestimate from where your opportunities could come. In-house can be great for allowing you to move around in areas, too. A firm will only pay for you to get smart in an area once. The can't bill out a 5th or 6th year attorney at first year rates just because you've decided to switch from real estate to employment law, so, they most likely won't allow it. My in-house positions have allowed me to have new experiences without always having to find a new employer.
Oh, and my new boss? Our time at pre-merger bank overlapped by 1 year. So, he remembered my name from there and I remembered his.