Is your in-house legal counsel in tune with the business? An in-house lawyer responds to questions by providing informed advice and guidance. But another key part is knowing how your role fits with the business goals and objectives. So here are 5 practical ways to make you a business savvy in-house lawyer.
1. Go beyond answering day-to-day legal questions
Daily legal advice I’m sure is covered well. But how often do people come to you or your team for wider business advice? Don’t allow legal to be separated from business operations. Make sure you invest time getting to know the issues the company deals with. Your goal is to be a key player in not just spotting the legal issues in any subject, but helping to influence business discussions and plans.
2. Get educated
Confident you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the business? I’m sure you know a fair amount already, but a deep understanding will make a big difference. You’re high up in your organisation - so use this access wisely.
Speak to finance managers and team leaders to learn how the business makes money. Read strategy documents, business plans, and press releases. Get to know the products and services and the customers well. This is a fantastic way to build important relationships and become a more strategic in-house lawyer.
3. Put your wide access to good use
The chances are you are in the fortunate position of being in both a management position within the organisation and dealing with multiple departments. This means you have power within the firm to see how departments can work better together. Use this access to help devise strategies for solving problems more efficiently.
You’ll also find this is a superb way to master communicating complex information in a simple way. Get to the point quickly, use visual aids and get people understanding what you and other departments do.
4. Get financially clued-up
How well do you know the numbers? Business success comes down to numbers, so make sure you know your way around profit and loss, cash-flow and balance. You want to know enough to understand what the firm’s current financial position is.
If you plan on becoming general counsel, you must know enough to run your in-house legal team. The more financial acumen you gather, the more valuable you will be.
5. Develop relationships
It’s always about who you know. Business decisions are not just made in the meeting room and over email, so get to know the influential people in your company and befriend them. This is about securing your long-term interests and developing personal relationships that will help you and the business grow. So take people out for lunches, drinks and the odd dinner and be interested in what they know.
A strategic in-house lawyer knows there’s a value in learning the business and knowing the people behind it rather than simply meeting day-to-day legal needs. So ask questions, communicate well, and put in the time. Then you’ll be invaluable to the business.
JMC specialises in in-house legal recruitment. If you’re looking for the best in-house legal jobs in Bristol, London or anywhere in the UK, we’ve got you covered. And if you’re searching for the perfect in-house lawyer, we have the expertise you need. Call us today for confidential advice on 0203 865 2113 or click here for more information.