3 experts share key insights into accelerating your career in-house

The Aspire networking and professional group met on Wednesday 15 November 2017. Hosted by Sophie Gould, Head of In-house, LexisNexis, this session looked at career transitions and choices and business partnering, how to use technology in the legal team and an interactive Q&A session. Aspire meets 4 times a year and provides a free networking forum which is a key life line to many starting out in their in-house legal career.

Career transitions and business partnerships

Toby Hornett who recently took up a role as Learning and Development Manager at Canon following a number of years in legal – most recently as Legal Director - spoke about career transitions and business partnerships.

Career transitions

Everyone goes through career transitions, albeit on different scales and at different levels. A number of smaller transitions can ultimately result in a larger change and these should be embraced, even if they are not planned.

Big transitions, perhaps in sector or function, are best done in steps, and steps are typically easier when taken internally (you can see this illustrated in a diagram here).  A key element in successfully navigating such a change the people you know and impressions you’ve made.

So, if you’re considering making a change, create opportunities for yourself by finding out where your interests lie and embracing them. Engage with mentoring schemes early on as these can really help you to pinpoint where you want to be – and help you to get there. Don’t wait for HR to approach you with ideas – they won’t.

You can find some key things to consider when facing or planning a transition here.

Business partnerships

Business partnering considers the principal ways in which in house lawyers engage with their business. These relationships are depicted in this model.

In-house lawyers have a unique position with connections all across a business, from senior management and HR to finance and communications. This results in a level of visibility that isn’t shared by other teams. This puts you in a potentially powerful position and enables you to bring people together to make things happen in a more collaborative way. It also means you’re at risk of becoming a ‘mere conduit’ through which information is passed – a key takeaway from the discussion was that all strengths can be weaknesses – a risk you ought to be aware of.

How to use technology in the legal team

Rubya Ramjahn, Head of Legal at Shutl (eBay’s logistics company) spoke to the group about using technology in the legal team. We all think of technology as exciting and innovative, while neglecting the more mundane and practical ways it can add value in the workplace.

Lawyers often struggle to get to grips with the dynamic world of technology, but it’s increasingly important to how we manage time and information, communicate, and retain documents. Rubya offered some useful tips for making the most of the tools we have available, and how to handle technology’s downsides, such as constant demands on your attention. For example, the ‘6 Ds’ approach to how to manage incoming emails:

  • discard
  • delegate
  • do it
  • date it – defer the task
  • drawer – file it
  • deter – opt out or unsubscribe

Which hat fits me best? Interactive Q&A with Megan Bawden

Megan Bawden, Business Manager to Telephonica’s CFO answered questions on the career lessons she’s learned from her legal and non-legal roles, and transitioning between the two.

Read her journey and top tips and pitfalls to watch for as your progress  here.

The session finished with informal networking drinks and an opportunity to ask questions of all the speakers.

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Aspire is free to join and open to all in-house lawyers in the early stages of their legal career. If you wish to be informed about future Aspire events register your interest here.

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