Lunch & Learn

A good sense of humor, confidence and common sense all help according to McDonald's Corp GC

Mahrukh Hussain speaking to the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago's Lunch & Learn

Mahrukh Hussain, McDonald’s Corporation General Counsel (Central Division), recently spoke to the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago. Her comments focused on the qualities she and McDonald’s Corporation look for when hiring attorneys. Not surprisingly, such things as having the qualifications required of the position, knowing the details of information on one’s resume and asking good questions made Ms. Hussain’s list. But so too did common sense, multi-tasking and a good sense of humor.

 Speaking at a Muslim Bar Association Lunch & Learn on Thursday, July 29, 2010, Ms. Hussain discussed attorney hiring for in-house counsel jobs from a general counsel’s perspective. A diverse group of attorneys and law students including large law firm partners, solo practitioners, in-house counsels, government attorneys and attorneys working in non-legal corporate positions were on hand at the host firm of Neal Gerber Eisenberg to hear Ms. Hussain’s presentation. 

With ten years of experience in-house at McDonald’s Corporation, Ms. Hussain enlivened her remarks with lots of anecdotes from her time in the interviewing trenches. She spoke of common sense because, in her experience, otherwise qualified candidates failed to have enough of it. 

She described a candidate who knocked himself out of contention by spending the entire interview asking about how to lateral over to the business side of McDonald's Corporation. While lateral moves are possible at McDonald's Corporation, Ms. Hussain said the near-singular focus on how one can move from the legal to the business side of the company put his commitment to the law department in doubt. 

Important take away: you may not be as crafty as you think so get the job you're interviewing for first - it'll be easier to plot your path to the CEO office from the inside.  

Participants at the Lunch & Learn asked questions and shared their own insights throughout the presentation.  After Ms. Hussain commented on the importance of in-house counsel being able to effectively multi-task, Faiyaz Hussain, also an in-house attorney, recommended that the skill not necessarily be practiced during the interview. How so? According to Mr. Hussain an otherwise very qualified attorney repeatedly received phone calls on her cell phone during her interviews at his organization. He and his colleagues were not impressed. 

Another important take away: place the cell phone on silent mode and in this case only tell and don’t show. 

While some of the more egregious interviewing mistakes were funny, all of Ms. Hussain’s points were insightful. She noted that most attorneys who interview candidates are not expert interviewers and that sometimes there is very little time to review a resume before the interview. Help the interviewer, she suggested, by pointing out things that are relevant to the position. Help make the interview more conversational by engaging the interviewer in a dialogue rather than simply answering questions and listening intently. 

A good sense of humor will not take the place of solid experience. It can, however, provide that little intangible that tips the scale between two otherwise qualified finalists for an attorney position. Ms. Hussain recalled an instance when a candidate who was told the decision was between him and one other individual lightly and spontaneously offered to “debate” the other candidate for the position. It happened shortly after a presidential debate during the last election and made the comment memorable and funny. He got the job. 

Important disclaimer: Ms. Hussain’s comment on a sense of humor should not be taken as an invitation to tell jokes when interviewing with McDonald’s Corporation. 

In addition to addressing attorney hiring, Ms. Hussain also touched on how attorneys can earn McDonald’s Corporation’s business. Ms. Hussain suggested that networking with general counsels like her is important. She encouraged attorneys to reach out to her and let her know of their expertise. 

Ms. Hussain noted that McDonald’s Corporation likes to work with attorneys and law firms that performed good work for the company in the past, and that as a result, the opportunity for new firms to work with McDonald’s Corporation can be limited. That said, Ms. Hussain observed that firms and attorneys are from time to time precluded from projects due to conflicts or because they lack the capacity to take on additional work. These are some of the instances when new attorneys and law firms may be sought out. 

LaDale George, a partner at Neal Gerber Eisenberg and a board member of the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago, hosted the July 29th Lunch & Learn. Several of the firm’s partners dropped into the meeting to greet the MBA members and to meet Ms. Hussain.

The attendees at the Lunch & Learn included Muslim attorneys and their non-Muslim colleagues. MBA events are open to the Illinois legal community and MBA members are strongly encouraged to promote its meetings, educational sessions and networking opportunities among their colleagues of different faiths. 

The MBA’s Lunch & Learn is an occasional networking and educational series that meets approximately once every two months. The Lunch & Learn meetings are held in downtown Chicago, are free of charge and are “bring your own lunch” affairs.

To see more pictures of the July 29, 2010 Lunch & Learn please click here!


Mahrukh Hussain to Speak at July 29, 2010 "Lunch & Learn"

Mahrukh Hussain with Ferhana Khera at NAML/MBA reception at ISNA 2010
Mahrukh Hussain (on left) with Ferhana Khera, Executive
Director of Muslim Advocates at the NAML/MBA Reception
at the ISNA Convention in Rosemont, Illinois
 

The Muslim Bar Association of Chicago (MBA) is pleased to welcome Ms. Mahrukh Hussain, a co-founder of the MBA (& current board member), as its featured speaker at the next "Lunch & Learn" to be held on Thursday, July 29, 2010.  Ms. Hussain's presentation at the "Lunch & Learn" will be on lawyer hiring and what she looks for in a prospective hire.  This is an excellent opportunity to get an insider perspective from a lawyer who regularly interviews other lawyer candidates!

About Mahrukh Hussain

Mahrukh Hussain is an Illinois attorney and has been practicing law since 1996.  She has served as an attorney in McDonald’s Corporation Legal Department since December 2000 and currently serves as General Counsel for the Central Division of McDonald’s USA, LLC.  Her primary areas of concentration at McDonald’s are Franchising and Commercial Real Estate, but she encounters many different facets of the law in her role.  

Prior to joining McDonald’s, Ms. Hussain was an associate at the law firm of Schwarz, Cooper, Greenberger & Krauss where she focused on commercial real estate.  During her employment at Schwarz, Cooper, Greenberger & Krauss, she was granted leave for one year in order to clerk for Justice Rita Garman, who was then a Justice on the 4th District Illinois Appellate Court and who is currently a Justice on the Illinois Supreme Court.  

Ms. Hussain earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago in 1993.  She earned her J.D. from the University of Illinois in 1996, where she was a member of the Law Review and Moot Court Board.  Ms. Hussain is a member of the American Bar Association and Association of Corporate Counsel.  Ms. Hussain was also a founding member of the Muslim Bar Association.

Ms. Hussain lives in the Western Suburbs of Chicago with her husband and two sons.

Event Details

Date: Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time: Noon to 1:30pm

Place: Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP
Two North LaSalle Street Suite 1700 Chicago, Illinois 60602-3801

Host: LaDale George, Partner
Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP

Cost: Free

This is a "bring your own lunch" meeting.  Attire is business casual.


Temptation of Obama: The Emergency State and the Dark Side

Professor Fazal Khan  
  
 Professor Fazal Khan* of the University of Georgia Law School spoke to Muslim lawyers and law students at a special Muslim Bar Association "Lunch & Learn"** on Thursday, July 8, 2010.  Imron Aly, a partner at Winston & Strawn, hosted the MBA "Lunch & Learn".

Although the event was schedule on short notice (because Dr. Khan happened to be in town for the 4th of July weekend) it was very well attended.  That's probably because Dr. Khan's presentation was so intriguing: "Temptation of Obama: The Emergency State and the Dark Side".

Conference room at Winston & Strawn  

Dr. Khan's presentation focused on the national security issues and the erosion of accountability when the the national security label is affixed to a range of issues from health care emergencies to state sponsored torture.  Dr. Khan published an article in the Harvard Law & Policy Review on a related subject (the title of the article is "Ensuring Government Accountability During Public Health Emergencies").

Among the points covered during the presentation were the Bush administration's advocacy of the "unitary executive" theory, the Obama administration's reliance upon the 9/14/01 Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) (this law gave the president broad powers to detain, interrogate and kill), the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, Iqbal v. Ashcroft, Arar v. Ashcroft, Padilla v. Yoo and the "state secrets doctrine."

Throughout the presentation Dr. Khan fielded questions from the audience.  After the presentation Dr. Khan spoke briefly about his transition from private practice to academia.  And at the end he made a verbal commitment to return to Chicago in the near future to talk more about the opportunities in academia for attorneys.

IMG00057-20100708-1216
An incredible view of the Aon Center from a 47th
floor conference room at Winston & Strawn 

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*Professor Khan began his legal career in Chicago and was a member of the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago while working at Jenner & Block.

**The Muslim Bar Association of Chicago hosts brown-bag networking and education events in downtown Chicago called "Lunch & Learn".  These events feature lawyers, law professors and the judiciary who speak on a wide range of topics.