3 practical ways to accelerate your career as an in-house lawyer

3 practical ways to accelerate your career as an in-house lawyer

The LBCambridge programme was established in 2006 by LBC Wise Counsel as a residential skills development programme for in-house lawyers. The 23rd LBCambridge took place at Queens’ College, Cambridge in September 2017 brilliantly supported by Lexis Nexis.

The traditional opening keynote session on the first full day is developed around themes which the delegates identify as their most pressing issues. We ask the delegates what is “top of mind”, then discuss and debate these ideas with them and then distil these conversations into a presentation. The presentation seeks to build on the concerns, opportunities and ambitions of the delegates attending the programme.

This time one theme was overwhelmingly at the forefront of their thinking. Just how do you develop a career when some, or all, of the following list applies?

  1. Promotion is impossible until someone leaves
  2. There is no budget
  3. My boss doesn’t have time to be truly interested in my career development.

The short, but perhaps not so helpful answer is to think about leaving. It is not intended as a flippant remark. If you are genuinely in such a role and you genuinely cannot make it work differently for you, why would you stay for very long?

My advice for all in-house lawyers whether you are in the most fulfilling place you can imagine or somewhere quite different is to firmly and actively take responsibility for your development. Do not leave this to a hard-pressed (possibly equally under-developed boss) or to a generic HR inspired offering that might tick boxes but is somewhat short of real development.

Some straight-talking first, why would you trust your most precious asset – your career – to chance, or to a boss who is as tired and put-upon as you, or to an HR solution bought years before for generic L&D purposes? The answer must be that you should not do so. You must own your career narrative and manage the detail of your career development.

I’ll use round numbers to be illustrative rather than accurate, but let’s suppose you are 30 years old and currently earning a salary with bonuses that is worth up to £100k a year. If your salary flat lines you will have earned £3m by t

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About the author:
Paul leads many of LBC’s significant projects and lectures widely at events and conferences in the UK, Europe, North America and South Africa. Themes include legal services strategy, skills development and the changing face of the legal profession.


Paul qualified as a UK solicitor in 1987 and for much of his career he was an in-house lawyer. Paul was the General Counsel in two major UK financial services companies and held positions as chairman and chief executive of the national in-house lawyers Commerce & Industry Group. For six years Paul was a Council Member of the England & Wales Law Society and was elected to the Society’s Main Management Board. Until 2014 he was also Vice-Chairman and a Trustee of LawWorks, the UK’s national pro bono charity.

Paul is a successful author with six books and over one-hundred published articles in the UK, Europe, North America and South Africa