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Sophie Gould talks to Clare Woolley, Head of Legal at RAC, who gives her tips for lawyers starting out their careers in an in-house legal department.
What advice do you have for lawyers starting out in their in-house career?
I would say go with the flow and don’t have a fixed idea of where you’re going to end up. When you’re a trainee you don’t know a lot about law let alone the area that you want to specialise in or whether you want to work in private practice or in-house. Take every opportunity that’s in front of you, don’t prejudge whether you are going to like something or not. If you find don’t like it, then don’t do it again!
People can have too rigid an idea of their career path, which doesn’t always play well to their natural talents or allow them to maximise opportunites that cross their paths. Take time to reflect on each experience that you have, particularly the more difficult ones; understand what made it difficult for you and what you would do in the same situation next time to make It easier. But at the same time, whilst reflection and learning from mistakes is important , do not to set yourself unrealistic expectations and try to achieve perfection. It is more important to understand where your strengths and weaknesses, try to adapt your style to accommodate themlie and understand areas where you may need to ask for extra help and assistance.
I think lawyers and law firms can be very demanding expecting people to excel in all areas; but actually, people aren’t like that. People aren’t perfect and there is joy in that imperfection! Over time you will learn to surround yourself with people who’s skills and personalities complement your own. You will be a leader one day and the aim should be to create teams that achieve a balance between people’s skills
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Since joining LexisNexis in 2009 Sophie has worked on developing our legal and business content for the in-house legal community. She also runs various networking and mentoring groups for in-house lawyers and works with schools to promote social mobility within the legal profession.
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