I must say I got a chuckle from a recent article counseling law school grads to consider "alternative career paths" including procurement. After all, one good mind going into our field and one less shark slowly bleeding the economy to death must be a positive thing now, mustn't it? The story suggests that given the "tepid legal marketplace" that "law students and recent graduates (whether deferred, downsized or simply dismayed) need to rethink their career strategies to adapt to this brave new world." Even though I must admit to being cynical about most subjects surrounding lawyers, I do think the skill set is very appropriate for procurement and contracting. Just as in M&A, legal skills applied to the supply management world may be as (or even more) effective than an MBA.
The article begins its investigation of procurement by suggesting that "Law students and recent grads may wonder what exactly procurement is." It then walks through the case of a law school graduate who took the path less traveled into the procurement world. The lawyer in question began her career by "drafting and negotiating software contracts" before moving into an overall procurement leadership position. The procurement leader questioned in the article suggests that her chosen field is a good one for lawyers because it does not close off future doors for going into the legal profession, "because procurement frequently includes drafting, negotiating and reviewing a wide variety of contracts." Hence, "it is not a U-turn but more like a fork in the road."
Here's to hoping lawyers getting into procurement realize it's a great career path and decide to stay. I'd argue that compared with in-house counsel salaries, it can be just as lucrative as well. With many managers, directors, VPs and CPOs earning into six figures -- sometimes well into six figures -- the overall comp package compared with a staff attorney role inside a corporation looks decent by comparison. Sure, it won't match what law firms pay, but then again, the more lawyers we have in the procurement field who know how to source the somewhat esoteric and varied subject, the greater the chance that pay will shrink in attorney practices as well. Which adds a bit of an ironic twist to the entire subject, wouldn't you say?