Developing your kitchen cabinet

July 6, 2017

A kitchen cabinet is an age old political term that refers to a group of unofficial advisers to the holder of an elected office who are considered to be unduly influential. The term dates back to US President Andrew Jackson, whose close, personal friends (who gathered around his kitchen table) were considered by some to be as influential as his official cabinet.

Today, the term is often used to refer to a group of close, personal advisors that an individual may rely on to help shape key career decisions, who can better incorporate a broader range of viewpoints than their professional contacts alone may provide. The best kitchen cabinets are pro-actively developed and encompass the full range of values you want contemplated when making critical decisions. This may include: industry contacts, professional networks outside legal, community considerations, and family.

The key here is to form a group that can help integrate all facets of your life, with the common thread that their only interest is helping you make choices that are best for you. This is not to suggest they must necessarily take only self-interested viewpoints in your favour but rather, it means their considerations are free from conflicting interests (which your current law firm or legal department may have, for example, when considering alternate career paths).

Having access to this type of advice at crucial career decision points can be invaluable and can’t generally be constructed when you need the guidance, so we would encourage you to think about what you can do to start building your cabinet now, before you genuinely need their advice.

Warren Smith, Managing Partner