Lesley Rosenthal, author of Good Counsel, wrote in her latest blog post that nonprofit legal jobs used to be all but non-existent. The legal counsel at NYC-based Lincoln Center consisted of just her and an executive assistant. Keep in mind that this is not some tiny organization; it's one of the largest and most successful performing arts centers in the world.
Times have changed since then, and executive directors have been convinced that it's absolutely necessary to have a sizable legal counsel within the organization. As you might expect, this kind of job is in high demand. Rosenthal suggested the following tips to land one of these coveted positions:
- You need to build up your resume. Accumulate experience drafting and negotiating contracts. Study nonprofit law, governance, and compliance basics. You should also gain an understanding of how business laws and regulations apply in the sector, and how they differ.
- Do volunteer work and/or serve on a board.
- Build your network through social networking, bar associations, and legal education programs. Send your resume to search firms that specialize in nonprofit job searches.
- Request informational interviews and ask your contact for suggestions about others you should meet.
- Show your passion for the cause. For example, get involved with relief work in a troubled area, raise money for the mission, etc.
- Keep up-to-date on the latest news from the sector. The NonProfit Times is a a pretty good source for this (hint, hint). This is also a good way to determine which organizations may be hiring in the future.
You can read the rest of Rosenthal's blog post on her website.