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Remember when companies dangled lavish perks and ridiculous stock options before green young lawyers to entice them to be their general counsel? No, it wasn’t a dream. But it’s a different world out there now. Corporate consolidations, the thinning of the dot-com ranks, and worries about profits and terrorism have all conspired to make companies less willing to part with their cash, even for hotshot attorneys. So would-be GCs have had to adapt to a new reality when it comes to negotiating compensation packages. In this new world, cash is hip, and the soft stock market means that stock options are pass� But there’s more to corporate life than cash in hand, and that’s where bargaining still makes sense. Instead of lucrative options, think of perks that make life more livable, while still delivering value to the new boss. In this tightfisted economy, some “benefits” require minimal or no cash outlay by your new employer. And they will provide you with greater value than they cost the company. Each person’s situation will differ, but here are a few things to lobby for: • Occasional telecommuting: For some people, the opportunity to work from a home office one or two days a week rather than fighting the expressway (or the crush on the 7:34 morning train) could be, as the commercial says, priceless. In an era of high-speed Internet connections, cell phones, and faxes, this can often be accomplished with minimal disruption. At least two New York-based GCs maintain two fully staffed offices — one at home and one at headquarters — that make their hectic lives far more bearable. • Flexibility in scheduling: If your daughter is a soccer star and watching her play Thursday afternoons is crucial to your well-being — and if it would not be antithetical to the corporate culture — see if you can make that part of your arrangement going in. You will still get your work done, and be happier in the process. The company loses nothing, and gains a well-adjusted GC. • Extra vacation: Many corporations start all new hires with two weeks of vacation, no matter how senior they are. For those accustomed to a law firm’s four weeks, the shock could be buffered in negotiations, without great pain to your employer. Your new company knows that you are a responsible professional and that you will still get the job done even as you live by Justice Brandeis’s dictum, “I can do a year’s work in 11 months but not in 12.” If your employer resists, offer to “buy” back some of that time (basically, you settle for a slightly lower salary), a policy adopted by a number of enlightened companies. • Start time: Some companies have a tradition of employees rising with the roosters, which might not suit a GC with a night owl’s internal clock. If it is important to you and you don’t think it would ruffle too many feathers, see if you can reach an understanding that even though you may frequently be in the office after 9 p.m., you don’t intend to be there before 9 a.m. And, finally, ask for a perk now that hopefully you’ll never have to use later — a decent severance package. One of the GCs placed recently by our San Francisco office was able to persuade the rest of senior management not only that he should have such a clause in his contract, but that all the company’s top executives should have the same protection. The candidate drafted a provision that was ultimately put in place for all of the company’s top executives. The typical severance components include: one to two years’ salary; outplacement assistance; a company car allowance; relocation costs; the extension of medical benefits until a job is found, or throughout the severance period; cash for accrued vacation time; and full vesting of all stock, 401(k), and pension contributions. In short, find the strongest company you can, with a management team you like and have confidence in. If you can become their general counsel and negotiate a fair package, you will be the envy of most of the 975,000 other lawyers in America. Jonathan Lindsey is the managing partner of the New York office of the San Francisco-based recruiting firm Major, Hagen & Africa. Frank D’Amore heads Major, Hagen & Africa’s Philadelphia office and is a former general counsel.

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