Working in-house in a corporate legal department can be a great career. Instead of multiple clients, you have one—the corporation you work for, there are no billable hour requirements (although the hours can be quite long), and you will get the chance to work on sophisticated legal issues. So how can you position yourself to land a job in-house?
Working in-house while you are in law school is a great first step. Notre Dame law students are very lucky because multiple corporations, including Hyatt Hotels, interview and may hire Notre Dame students for summer internships, we have a robust corporate counsel externship program enabling students to work for a corporation in the South Bend area during the semester, and students can work full-time for a corporation such as Levy Restaurants, Merieux Nutrisciences Corporation, and several others through the Notre Dame Law in Chicago program.
Hyatt Hotels Corporation is an American multinational owner, operator, and franchiser of hotels, resorts, and vacation properties. Hyatt has 708 properties in 56 countries. Hyatt’s legal department is headquartered in Chicago. Last week, I got the chance to speak with Andrea Moroney, Senior Counsel, Hyatt Corporation to learn more about Hyatt’s 1L legal internship, in-house jobs generally, and her career path.
KM: Can you tell me more about Hyatt’s summer legal internship?
AM: Hyatt’s Legal Department hires one 1L intern each summer for an eight week long paid internship. Hyatt gears the summer work and projects towards someone who has finished one year of law school. The intern experiences an introduction to the hotel industry and working as a lawyer in-house in the various areas that make up Hyatt’s legal department.
During the summer, the intern rotates throughout the legal department, spending one-two weeks with attorneys and paralegals in each of our four divisions. Some experiences they may have are sitting in on business calls, attending meetings and seminars and working on projects that genuinely contribute to the department. They are assigned real projects that have relevant meaning.
The legal internship is part of a larger corporate office internship program and the legal intern is part of that internship group. The internship group is comprised of undergraduates and graduate students, including MBA candidates interning on the business side and accounting candidates interning in the accounting department.The interns participate in some social gatherings and events and there is a group project that the interns complete together at the end of the summer.
KM: How can a candidate stand out when applying for Hyatt’s internship?
AM: What stands out is someone who is well-rounded and interested to learn and be a part of our team. Hyatt is a hospitality company so someone who has had not only some legal experience, but also has worked in the service industry experience is a great candidate.We have hired individuals who have worked as a servers, bartenders, or in some other customer service position.
KM: What are the components that make up Hyatt’s legal department?
AM: Hyatt’s legal department is composed of four basic divisions:
- General operations covering employment law, intellectual property, information technology, sales, contracts and other general operations that affect the corporate office and hotels. (Andrea works in this division).
- Real estate and development oversee building, purchasing/selling, opening, leasing, and franchising of hotels.
- Compliance maintains privacy policies, SEC regulations, corporate governance and licenses.
- Litigation manages internal matters and works with outside counsel on court cases involving our company.
There are about 35 attorneys worldwide in Hyatt’s legal department, 23 of which are based in the US.
KM: How can students apply for the 1L Hyatt internship?
AM: The position is posted each year on our online system on Hyatt.com and students must apply through that channel. However, if you have interested students, please send me their resumes directly once they see the posting. We begin to review resumes in January and February each year and then conduct telephone interviews, followed by in person interviews for the remaining candidates.
Note from Katelynn: If you are a 1L and interested in an internship with Hyatt, email me and I will pass your resume on to Andrea.
KM: Can you tell me about your career path and how you ended up at Hyatt?
AM: I have been at Hyatt for 17 years – 10 in legal and 7 in the hotels. Before law school, I was part of Teach for America in the New Orleans area and then worked in the Food & Beverage department and Human Resources at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. I moved through the Human Resources department and then was moved to a few Hyatt hotels in Chicago. I attended law school in Chicago and was offered a federal clerkship after law school. I was then very excited to be offered a second federal clerkship and after that was fortunate to be hired back with Hyatt in the legal department.
KM: What advice do you have for students looking to go in-house?
AM: Because Hyatt legal does not typically hire right out of law school, the best way to get a job working in house is to get some legal experience, create an expertise in the area you’re interested in, and look for companies hiring subject matter experts. Most corporations do not hire someone to work in-house until they have five years of legal experience. Corporations often times hire subject matter specialists, whether you are a specialist in employment or labor law, IP, etc, it is very helpful to have a specialty. Most lawyers come to Hyatt from larger law firms.
KM: What was your specialty?
AM: My specialty was knowing Hyatt; how the company and hotels work, the culture and what the unique areas are that touch hotels. I got to know the company from my hotel experience in New Orleans and Chicago. This experience and perspective combined with my legal work and unique time at the federal courthouse, I believe, was valuable and set me apart from other candidates.
If you want to learn more about in-house careers, Notre Dame’s corporate externship opportunities, or applying for the Hyatt internship, contact me.