This column is inspired by the iconic comedy troupe “Kids in the Hall.” All five original members have returned for a new season now airing on Amazon Prime, over 30 years after they began. In my opinion, they are better than ever, as evidenced by the irreverent sketch “60 on the Pole.” Yes, it’s about what you are thinking. And it’s hilarious.
Hiring in-house counsel in their 60s is no laughing matter. Unfortunately, it’s rare. Most companies are only comfortable hiring older attorneys in project roles, often via a third-party staffing agency. For this month’s column, I am going to lay out the business case for hiring an older attorney. In doing so, I won’t shy away from taboo words like older and age.
- More bang for the buck. Fifth-year corporate associates at AmLaw 100 firms are making over $500,000 after bonuses. Mid-career inside counsel are reluctant to move without a title bump and they won’t come cheap either. Many career in-house attorneys in their 60s never experienced that kind of wage inflation, and you can hire a good one within the salary parameters you have in mind.
- More energy. Specifically, older lawyers are accustomed to actually going to the office. Many general counsel want more in-office time from their attorneys, but recognize the shift to at-home work and live with it. It takes a certain kind of mental stamina to commute, something we all took for granted not so long ago. And older attorneys are adept at handling HQ environments.
- Less ladder pressure. How many “high-potential” lawyers can you handle in your law department? You can only promote your attorneys every so often, and not all of them. Sure, you want a star or two for career path ladder climbing and potential successorship. But a new hire in his or her 60s is not about that. You get someone who values the job “as-is,” and who is motivated by considerations other than becoming a general counsel.