5 career development tips for in-house lawyers starting out in their career

Sophie Gould, Head of In-house, LexisNexis, recently facilitated an interactive Q&A session with members of the Advisory Board. The Q&A panel was represented by Billy Rogers, Paralegal at Equiniti; Robyn Curd, Employment Paralegal at BT and Debbie Singh, In-house Counsel Marketing & IP Team at Telefonica.

#1 Network, network, network

To secure her in-house training contract, Debbie really made the most of her networking skills. Her previous role at O2, provided the chance to work with the in-house legal team and the opportunity to both win their trust and understand more about the different roles that were on offer in-house.

She then leveraged this opening to network, building relationships with the GC and the wider legal team and slipping into conversation whenever possible that she had done her LPC and would be interested in exploring a legal role further.

#2 Use the Best Practice Framework for In-house Training Contracts

Like many, Billy faced the challenge that his organisation had never taken on in-house trainees in the legal department.

As a member of Aspire, he was aware of the best practice framework for in-house training contracts that had been created by a working party within the Forum. Using this framework, Billy approached his organisation with a solid business case.

Discussions began at the start of the year and Billy’s tenacity backed by the right tools, paid off.  5 months later Billy had the green light to progress his training contract in-house. He is now supporting his organisation through the long road of SRA accreditation. He remains motivated and driven through the networking opportunities provided by Aspire.

What’s more, Billy recognises that he is doing the hard graft to pave the wave for more trainees in the future – already stepping out to support the next generation of in-house lawyers.

#3 Never miss an opportunity

For Robyn, the best career advice from her personal experience to date was simple, “Take every opportunity”!

Put yourself forward for working groups. This both expands your network within the business and allows you to gain new skills and experiences which will be of great value as you progress in your career.

It also often allows you to work alongside more senior people within your team and other teams in the business, affording the opportunity to win the backing of the GC and promote yourself and your skills and talents to a wider audience.

#4 Showcase your ability when you can

We have all heard the mantra “You have to do the job before you get the job”.

And Debbie certainly agreed. Her advice was that it was important to showcase your ability whenever you can. From her experience, she would often need to demonstrate she had the competence to step into a role or take on a project before officially being given the responsibility.

#5 Know your value

Sometimes the route to an in-house training contract is not straight forward. You may choose to work in another field or gain experience elsewhere in business first.

For those that get a training contract a few years after doing their LPC, Debbie was passionate about her tip for success: “Leverage your commercial experience”.

Your experience working in business is invaluable as an in-house lawyer. When applying for a training contract and faced with competition from applicants coming straight out of law school – remember that you are often a “safer bet” because of this experience and understanding of business. This is how you can make your mark and stand out from the crowd.

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