Valuable Transferable Skills for In-House Lawyers

January 6, 2020

When making a career change, there are many things to consider. Lawyers have many different avenues they can explore throughout their legal career, such as transitioning in-house, moving laterally, or even leaving the traditional practice of law. No matter the path, one thing generally remains the same: your future employer will weigh your technical and soft skills more heavily than your direct industry experience.


We generally find there are many skillsets to be ‘industry agnostic’ (i.e. the same level of skills can be applied to a variety of industries). Your first two years of practising are key in developing and strengthening your technical and soft skillsets. For example, if you are a corporate M&A lawyer doing both public and private work, your drafting, analytical, and communication skills, as well as your attention to detail and business acumen, will be considered more important than the type of industries you have worked in. 


As a legal recruiter, I find the following skills to be highly desirable by employers: 


  • Communication There are four main types of communication we use daily: verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual. Being able to effectively communicate with a wide variety of stakeholders is a key part of any job. Proper communication builds a sense of trust in your capabilities, which is always a great skill to have, whether you’re in private practice or in-house.


  • Analytical This includes our ability to collect and analyze information, problem-solve, and make decisions. You can use these skills to help solve a company’s problems and improve its overall productivity and success. As legal counsel, often your responsibility is to manage risk and identify potential problems in the business’ operations. 


  • Leadership These skills come in many different shapes and forms. Being an effective leader in the workplace requires tapping into all your skills and applying them in a teamwork environment. Looking at both the micro and the macro elements of your organization will help you better lead your team. Being able to communicate your ideas effectively, while identifying problems and risk, are crucial parts of being a good leader.


  • Information Management Information management is an umbrella term encompassing all the systems and processes within an organization for the creation and use of corporate information. If you’re new to a company, these skills will develop over time as you integrate into your role and learn more about the company’s business operations. 


  • Project Management This ensures proper expectations are set around what can be delivered, by when, and for how much. Effective project managers should be able to negotiate reasonable and achievable milestones and deadlines for management, stakeholders, and teams.


Although there are many other important skills, the above skills are the ones I find myself exploring with potential candidates most frequently. What do you consider the most important skills you need in your job? 


If you’re interested in exploring your legal career options, contact us for a confidential discussion today.


Jordan Priest, Recruitment Associate

647.484.8314 / 403.444.1760

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