With more legal work moving in-house, lawyers in the corporate sphere need to diversify their skill set, according to a NewLaw firm principal.
“More and more legal work is moving in-house and rightly so,” said lexvoco’s head of legal services Nat Parbhu, who sees a number of trends blurring the line between in-house lawyers and their more traditional firm-based counterparts.
Mr Parbhu, said “in-house lawyers are those best placed to provide the legal support that the business needs – from a commercial, risk and value perspective.”
As a result, he noted “in-house lawyers are having to diversify their skill set to become business leaders and strategists”.
With this in mind, Mr Parbhu said there is an increased need for in-house lawyers to have a grasp on legal operations and legal technology.
In-house legal teams need to find ways to be more efficient, leverage technology to do this, and measure their outputs and effectiveness of changes implemented “just as other teams have had to,” he expressed.
Mr Parbhu conceded that this is a new skill set for many in-house lawyers, and admitted in-house personnel are increasingly “hiring specialists in these areas, either on their team, or as an external partner to assist them.”
“We don’t believe commercial acumen and technical expertise are mutually exclusive,” Mr Parbhu said.
“Lawyers that have only ever worked in law firms may have great technical knowledge of the law but they have no idea of the realities of working in-house, the diversity of the work you deal with every day, and the pace of decision making.”
As a law firm which hires lawyers exclusively with in-house experience, Mr Parbhu said when dealing with business and company legal issues, lexvoco ultimately doesn’t “want to just throw people at a problem,” despite the trend towards legal technology.
He said the aim of complementing in-house work is “to be able to help our clients get to the root cause of their particular issue and help them find efficiencies in how they operate.”
“We never start with technology,” Mr Parbhu said, further admitting that “technology may not even be the right solution.”
“And if it is, we don’t pretend we can do it all.”