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There was an increase in attorney interviews at big corporations last year, according to a recent survey by New York legal consulting firm Eolis International Group. And these weren’t cattle calls. Law firm partners with significant experience were in particularly high demand. According to the national survey of attorney hiring trends in corporations, interviews of senior level lawyers jumped 20 percent between January 2010 and January 2011. A spokesperson for the consulting firm could not be reached for comment. According to a press release, respondents cited a growing need for sophisticated expertise and administrative savvy in managing outside counsel relationships. Forty percent of companies interviewing lawyers with 10 or more years of law firm experience said they need sophisticated workers to streamline work farmed out to firms. But in-house positions weren’t the only jobs up for grabs at big corporations. Thirty-eight percent of companies surveyed reported considering experienced attorneys for a wide range of positions, including quasi-legal and business roles. “This news is especially encouraging for law firm partners who prefer who seek management positions as well as those who prefer substantive legal work delivered to them rather than responsibility for drumming up business,” said Eolis CEO Wendeen Eolis in a press release. Nicky Mukerji, for one, isn’t surprised by the poll results. “It’s something I would expect,” says Mukerji, director of business intelligence at Nashville-based Legalbill, a consulting and analysis firm that helps reduce legal spend. “I’m actually surprised the number is only 20 percent,” he adds. “In many people’s minds, the recession is coming to an end,” says Mukerji. During the recession, corporations and firms engaged in significant relationship building usually brought on by the law firms, he says. What we saw as a result is that corporations started becoming much more interested in managing cases, from both a legal and business standpoint. “This is all a very positive step in trying to bring the client and the law firm together,” says Mukerji. Mukerji says that as the recession comes to an end and corporations are hiring, in-house legal departments “are trying to employ more professional and experienced lawyers who have been on the other side — who understand private practice.” Through surviving the recession, law firm partners have developed a business management thought process, says Mukerji. Armed with both legal and business skills, he says, experienced partners are inherently attractive to a corporation’s general counsel, and in turn to the rest of the company. In-house departments are in the process of trying to revamp their images, says Mukerji. Presenting hires with both legal and business experience sends a strong message to corporate executives and financial departments that law departments will be capable of handling all aspects of their caseloads.

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