Career development for in-house lawyers

Simon Porter [square]

Simon is a Senior Consultant at Laurence Simons. He focuses on the recruitment of lawyers at all levels within commerce and industry. In particular, he works with clients within the Media, Retail/ FMCG, Sports, Transport/ Infrastructure/ Utilities/ Logistics, Marketing/Advertising and Publishing sectors


How to progress your in-house career

Dealing with both businesses and candidates gives us as recruitment specialists a unique position; the feedback we receive from both parties gives us insight and allows us to provide advice on what both sides seek during the recruitment process. In this blog I will briefly discuss what can help candidates stand out from the crowd.

Since the economic upturn we’ve seen an increased number of lawyers in the job market, which in turn means increased competition for jobs. The more candidates we see the more we come across a diverse selection of candidate’s methods and approaches to job searching. Here are just a few tips that could help in-house lawyers project a more positive image, putting themselves in the best position to find a role:

Avoid long CVs

We see a number of a lawyers fall into the trap of thinking that more is better – this isn’t the case. Potential employers want to see what value you bring to your current employer not simply a long list of transactions. A good CV will give a clear overview of career history in chronological order (you’d be surprised at how many lawyerdon’t do this). Highlighting prior In-house experience is a must - again this is quite obvious but frequently not referenced correctly.

Utilise social media, but don’t rely on it

When looking for a new role, it’s important to use a variety of channels to begin with. The recent Laurence Simons salary survey identified that 46% of UK lawyers and 60% of lawyers worldwide use social media to look for roles. Businesses we’ve spoken to are increasingly sourcing candidates via LinkedIn. Having a strong profile is paramount (this is your personal broadcasting tool after all). However, the traditional method of using a specialist recruitment agency should not be discounted. A good recruiter can understand your priorities, your personality and suggest companies best suited to you. They can also keep you abreast of the latest opportunities. Indicating that you are interested in opportunities on LinkedIn alone will not bring huge rewards.

Demonstrating your commercial awareness

Particularly over the last few years, a candidate’s commerciality has become more of a priority at interview stage; those who progress quickly in their careers can demonstrate their ability to finding solutions to legal issues which can further a business. Be prepared to show good examples. This is especially the case with lawyers coming from private practice, who will need to show they can transition seamlessly into an in-house role and build strong working relationships company-wide.

Finally, feedback from our clients has shown that when interviewing for in-house positions one of the main things they look for in a lawyer is personality – will this person fit into the culture of the business? It sounds clichéd but personality really is key. An additional value of a recruiter is matching a candidate’s personality with an employer. A good recruiter will be able to tell the candidate which roles best suit their personality as they will understand the business culture before the interview. Experience and a strong academic background may well secure you an interview; however, it’s at this stage when you will need to demonstrate that you suit both the legal team and the wider business. A good piece of advice for when interviewing is to be concise when talking. It’s important not to waffle in your answers, as this will give a poor reflection of you as a lawyer. Companies want a lawyer that can cut through the legal jargon and communicate effectively. 


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