So, you’re a new in-house lawyer? Seven things to do in your first 90 days
Migrating from private practice can be daunting. Anu Kaura, head of legal at Malhotra Group plc, shares some top tips for you to consider during the first 90 days of your first in-house role.
1. Get to know your company and build key relationships
The importance of getting to know key personnel cannot be emphasised enough. This will assist you in navigating working dynamics and any internal politics going forward.
Schedule meetings in your first few weeks with key staff and stakeholders, creating the basis for dialogue and a two-way working relationship.
This should give you insight into key priorities and projects, and help you get known around the organisation.
Don’t forget to arrange regular catch ups with core staff so you can maintain these relationships.
2. Know your limitations
If you haven’t got a specialism already under your belt, and you're very much employed as a generalist, it's very tempting to say yes to every piece of work in order to impress.
However, this can be detrimental in the long term, as it could lead to work overload and have a negative impact on the advice you’re delivering.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support, both internally and externally. Maintain your professionalism when providing advice – remember, you are the moral conscience of the business.
Think about putting retainers in place with local law firms or barristers’ chambers, which can often be a sounding board and save you time by giving specialist advice.
Seek assistance when necessary.
Lean on your network (or get out and about and start building one). Your network can be an invaluable asset, particularly in this ever-changing legal environment.
Be able and comfortable to pick up the phone and speak to ex-colleagues and contacts.
4. "Eat the frog"
Your to-do list is never as bad as you think it will be.
Don’t procrastinate over the most daunting tasks; tick them off in an orderly fashion.
You could create your own system of tracking your workflow, which will help in monitoring incoming jobs, and demonstrates the value of your role.
You could go further and attach financial values to the work you are undertaking, which will assist in establishing a business case for training and/or further recruitment.
Be precise in your communications and get to the point. Start with the endgame: what is your advice? Get into the detail after this.
It's really tempting to sit on the fence with your advice, but don’t do this.
Provide commercially minded solutions to problem solving. You will then be seen as more of a help than a hindrance and truly adding value to the organisation.
Tailor your communication style to the receiving party, once you have got to know them.
If you find you are being given non-legal work on a regular basis, gently direct this back to the most appropriate department; otherwise you will end up overloading yourself with time-consuming odd-jobs that don’t add value to your role.
Be polite and friendly but maintain social boundaries.
Enjoy your role – you are obviously good at what you do, and your new employer has seen something in you for them to employ you.
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It aims to bring in-house lawyers together to share best practice, and address current issues and challenges in a supportive environment.
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Date: 10 June 2021
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