Lawyers generally start their professional careers with law firms. Few years down the line, as they gain experience and enhance their knowledge and skills, many of them start contemplating a shift to in-house role in a corporation. However easy it may seem, making a transition to in-house role is quite daunting. Lawyers often find themselves in a fix over the issue, and are not able to decide whether to make the transition or not. There are a lot of things that has to be taken into consideration before arriving at a decision on transitioning to Inhouse Legal Services .
When you make a transition from a law firm to an in-house role, you should be ready to experience a sea of change in work culture, job responsibilities, etc. Your entire profile changes and you will have to quickly adapt to the new work environment. You will have to carefully examine the new challenges that are likely to come your way and then decide for yourself whether you will be able to handle them and fit into the system.
Things that you need to take into consideration in light of the demands of the new role are discussed below.
Learn as much as you can About the Potential Employer
Try to gather as much information as you possibly can about your prospective new employer. It is crucial for an in-house lawyer to have a deep knowledge and understanding of the company’s business to be effective. He/she has to mingle and interact with the employees at every level to gain information and understand how the company operates and makes money. The lawyer shouldn’t leave any stone unturned to get the maximum insight into the business, and to learn the nuances of the business.
Be an asset
As a lawyer you have to look at yourself as a valuable asset for the company and try to put the same across to the management. You have to continue marketing yourself as key asset and a trusted advisor. The job of an in-house and corporate lawyers in India is to build strong and long-term relationships with clients and ensure that they look at you as a problem solver. If you are able to do that, then they will always find your advice valuable. Otherwise, do remember that your clients have choices.
In-house counsel is often perceived as someone who is always in the denial mode, putting up objections and roadblocks. It is good to raise concerns, but at the same time you must work constructively with rest of the team. You shouldn’t always cite reasons why something shouldn’t or can’t be done. Instead, you must try to find ways to do it without violating any law. Don’t stand in the way by raising objection, be a facilitator. It is the primary reason why businesses opt for in-house legal services.
Transitioning to an in-house role from a law firm doesn’t mean there will be an end to the intriguing legal challenges that you were accustomed to during your law firm days. But you have to come forward and raise your hand to get them. In-house counsel have ready access to all the legal issues that are generated by the clients, and are often assigned the most challenging work.
You have to be flexible with your work schedule in your in-house role. You have to keep your calendar as flexible as possible as a lot of issues crop up unexpectedly. You just can’t anticipate everything that’s going to be on your table next day. There will always be matters that come through the door totally unexpected. You have to be mentally prepared for such surprises and not get rattled by the developments. Don’t lose your calm if some executive pulls you away to something that has suddenly cropped up and needs immediate attention. These are common features in a corporate set up.
In-house general counsels are often called upon to take up added responsibilities that are beyond the normal functional area of a lawyer. In-house lawyers are now perceived as part of the senior management and expected to be involved in decision-making and engage in activities that impact the business as a whole. You have to proactively participate in the day to day functioning of the company. It may seem challenging, but the lawyers stand to gain a lot as it enhances their business knowledge.
In-house position offer lawyers a lot of opportunities to learn new things. You get a wealth of additional knowledge and experience that can potentially open the door to new opportunities. You gain vast knowledge about the industry your company operates in, that will stand you in good stead in the future.
As you can notice, there are lot difference between working in an in-house capacity and working in a law firm. All the points mentioned above are important considerations for in-house counsel, and you must take them into account, along with the earning potential, before you decide to make a transition to in-house legal services.