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From Lexis®PSL In-house: In the second part of this series looking at the work of Aspiring Solicitors, an organisation aiming to increase diversity in the legal profession, Jill Lodge, managing director and associate general counsel at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, discusses what prompted her to become a professional ambassador and why the in-house community needs to work more closely with law firms to support diversity.
What is your background?
I am currently a managing director and associate general counsel in the legal department at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. I manage a legal team which supports an area of the global markets business within the bank.
Why did you sign up to be a professional ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors?
I became a professional ambassador because I support Aspiring Solicitors' objective of creating a more diverse legal profession. It is important to make the profession accessible to people from a range of back-grounds, particularly under-represented groups.
In your opinion, what more could the in-house community be doing to support diversity?
I think the in-house community needs to work closely with their panel or relationship law firms on diversity initiatives. As in-house legal departments will mostly hire lawyers post-qualification, a lot of filtering has often already been done at the training contract application stage or even at the stage of summer vacation scheme places being offered. While in-house departments can do a lot to support diversity for lawyers progressing within their careers, they tend to have more limited input at the point of entry into the profession.
What top three legal and/or soft skills do you think are important for aspiring in-house lawyers?
It is important that you have the ability to communicate in a clear, concise manner. Having a practical approach and being able to focus on solutions rather than simply advising on the legal position are also really valuable skills. Strong interpersonal skills are absolutely key, as is being able to work well as part of a team.
As an ambassador, how do you support and encourage aspiring solicitors to gain and improve skills such as leadership, teamwork, networking and communication?
To support aspiring solicitors, we have hosted various networking events here at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. We have also held events where lawyers have talked in detail about their backgrounds and the paths they took to their current job. As an ambassador, I have been involved with answering queries about how to best present qualifications and experience on CVs and in the interview process.
Which conferences, networking events and publications would you recommend to aspiring in-house lawyers?
I recommend that anyone wanting to be an in-house lawyer should attend as many events as possible. This will give them the opportunity to learn about the breadth of career paths available within the legal profession. It will also give them an insight into the many areas of law in which you can choose to specialise.
More information about Aspiring Solicitors can be found here.
Interviewed by Helen Redding.
The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.
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