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While it might seem like a difficult transition, the same things that attracted me to working in the Manhattan district attorney’s office also drew me to working for Symantec Corp. And the skills I gained as a prosecutor have served me well throughout my legal career beyond the DA’s office. It’s one of the misconceptions in the legal profession: If you start out as a prosecutor or a public defender, you’re destined to remain in public service. As a result, many are deterred from pursuing advocacy early in their career for fear they will lose marketability in the private sector. But as my career path shows, that is definitely not the case. I have always liked to fight for something or someone. That old cliche “if you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for everything” always appealed to me. In my eyes, the legal profession was all about advocacy and fighting for what is right. So after law school, not surprisingly, I became a prosecutor, a job that many would view as a traditional route for an idealistic young attorney. It was a job I loved. As a prosecutor, I fought as long and as hard for my convictions as I did to see that someone got a second chance � if that was the fair result. Whether I was helping a victim of domestic violence or giving a second chance to a young man who went joyriding, I felt rewarded. At times, though, working as a prosecutor right out of law school and having responsibility for my own cases � and, by extension, other people’s lives � was downright scary. I can still remember the fear I felt the first time I had to make an argument in court or work with police officers to coordinate investigations. About six months into my career at the DA’s office, I had a pivotal conversation that transformed my work as a prosecutor. My criminal court supervisor sat me down and told me that I was going to be an excellent trial lawyer one day. But before that happened, I first had to get over my fear and try some cases! That simple concept led me to begin preparing cases for trial. Before long, I had picked my first jury and obtained my first conviction. That led to many more trials, including both victories and losses. Somewhere along the way I became a trial lawyer and developed the foundation of my in-house career. As many attorneys know, litigation, particularly criminal prosecution, prepares you for a job almost anywhere. Over the years, I gained incredible skills and gained an incredible amount of self-confidence. Now, nearly 10 years later, as an in-house transactional lawyer, I have found that satisfaction fighting for Symantec. Because of my experiences as a litigator I am not afraid to stand up for the company and fight if I have to � always in a customer-friendly way, of course. Although it sometimes makes for some difficult negotiations and tough stances, I believe that zealously guarding others’ interests � in this case, my company’s � ultimately garners the respect of adversaries. Working in-house does not mean having to sell out. I felt that I was always fighting for justice as a prosecutor. Now, as a lawyer for Symantec, I fight to preserve our company’s assets, reputation and integrity by drafting and negotiating contracts that create legal relationships with our clients. Today I believe that Symantec is worth fighting for and I work hard to protect it. To those who believe that working in-house means compromising your ethics in some way, I say that the private sector needs idealists and advocates as much as any other. In the wake of so many corporate scandals, lawyers who stand for what is right are more important to corporate America today than ever before. Nichole Williams-Miller is an associate corporate counsel at Symantec Corp., which is headquartered in Cupertino. From 1997 to 2002, Williams-Miller was an assistant district attorney in New York City. This article was originally published on Recorder affilliate Law.com.

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