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For any young legal professional, bridging the gap between ‘legal speak’ and ‘commercial speak’ is bit of a conundrum.
There are many pressures imposed on the in-house lawyer’s role. One day, you’re influencing the board, managing the eco-system of legal services and making technology-driven decisions. The next, you’re educating senior leaders and being a true business partner and strategist for the company.
In these interweaving cultures between business strategy, and legal counsel, communication can get easily lost.
In many cases, effective communication can be the deciding factor between success or failure. Even for highly experienced professionals, it is simply not easy to be advising on law and strategy at the same time – not to mention mergers and acquisitions, and the many other manifestations of the work of a legal counsel.
So how do you understand these differences, and prepare to excel as a business person and a legal professional? We have prepared a few points to help you get your head around effective communication skills in the business of law.
You will often hear in an organisation that commercial teams say their legal colleagues don’t understand them, and vice versa. This is largely because lawyers naturally speak in legal jargon, using words such as ‘indemnity’, ‘breach’, ‘act’ and so on. For a non-lawyer, these terms mean very little – and even less if they are used without the appropriate explanations, putting matters into a clear, concise commercial framework.
You could say that the language of the corporate world and the legal world have trouble ‘meshing’. This is because one is known for its brevity, whereas the other is known for its precision, and full explanations, with the research to back up every argument.
To stand out as an in-house lawyer, consider learning to creatively communicate your ideas and solutions, without getting into the in-depth legal conversations you might best used to having with your legal colleagues.
With every conversation in business, ideally you are looking to position, and sell, the commercial benefits of the legal team to the rest of the organisation. The way this can be achieved is by using concise, paired-back lang
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Amy leads the thought leadership and content strategy for LexisNexis UK. Her work appears in marketing campaigns, in industry press and in legal trade magazines. She is an established creative writer and researcher, with her articles appearing in national publications, such as City A.M. and Financial IT. She is also one of the writers and digital editors of LexisNexis' insights blogs including the Future of Law, and the In-house blog.
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