Featured Recruiter – Shelley Dunck

Featured Recruiter: Shelley Dunck

Shelley Dunck, one of our Managing Directors, wrote the article, “The Ins and Outs of Evaluating In-House Positions.” Gay Schreiber sat down with Shelley to discuss the article and why it is relevant to Shelley's own professional background and experience.  

Shelley, you wrote a great article on some of the important considerations for attorneys considering a move from a law firm to an in-house position. Why does this subject resonate with you?

We have terrific law firm and in-house positions to discuss with candidates. Often attorneys will say that they are most interested in in-house positions. I think there is a definite allure to not billing time and the perception of a job that is more lifestyle focused. Depending on the in-house position, however, these assumptions may not be accurate. I wrote this article to highlight that each in-house position is somewhat unique, and I think it’s important for attorneys who practice in law firm settings to better understand the benefits and challenges of in-house positions in order to make an informed decision. 

Tell us about your own background and why it is quite on point with the “ins and outs” discussed in the article. 

I actually moved from Skadden’s Chicago office to a captive law firm called Rosenberg & Liebentritt, which for several years did all of the legal work for real estate developer Sam Zell. Sam had a large stake in Equity Residential, and when it went public I was offered and accepted the opportunity to go in-house as Associate General Counsel. I actually loved working in an in-house setting. Although my hours were not always better, I felt that the opportunity to truly understand the business side allowed me to be an attorney who added value. Also, EQR’s in-house legal team actually did substantially all of the transactional work for EQR and I enjoyed working on the deals.

We are delighted that you are a recruiting professional at McCormack Schreiber. What made you take the leap to recruiting and to join McCormack Schreiber?

After EQR, I recruited for a few years, and then I joined Loyola University Chicago Law School as the Director of the Business Law Clinic. What I loved most about that role was working closely with students and helping them better understand what practicing could look like. After 11 great years at Loyola, I was ready for a next chapter and recruiting seemed like the opportunity that would allow me to bring all of my experience together. McCormack Schreiber was also a natural fit. I actually could not imagine joining another recruiting firm. There is a level of professionalism and mutual respect among the recruiters that is hard to find in this industry. 

What would be a few words of advice that you would give a junior-level law firm associate as they are beginning their legal career?

I would tell junior associates to be patient with themselves. The transition from law school to practice can be uncomfortable because you really don’t know what you are doing. All lawyers learn on the job and no one expects you to know everything. I would also encourage young lawyers to make the office rounds. It’s a relatively small legal community and it is highly likely that connections you make now will be helpful in the future. For example, I found out about the job at Rosenberg & Liebentritt from an awesome paralegal who I worked with at Skadden. We both ended up at EQR.

Read Shelley's article about her insights into moving in-house.