How to do in-house legal work in your passion area
There are a number of ways that one can transition across to in-house legal work that is more in line with one’s political, ethical or moral ways of thinking, says one GC – or, even simply use in-house skills for good.
Speaking recently on The Corporate Counsel Show, Greenpeace Australia general counsel Katrina Bullock said that if one wants to work as a legal counsel for a company or organisation that they are passionate about, then it is a matter of simply reaching out to those organisations.
“Doing a little bit of work, whether that’s pro bono or on a reduced rate, and getting an understanding of the organisation’s dynamics and how they work and whether not you’d be happy there, is crucial, it’s not something that’s an all-or-nothing,” she advised.
“You don’t have to leave your job right now and start knocking on the door of every organisation that you’re interested in working for, but you can certainly reach out to them as a potential client, or as a partner, and a venture that you’re walking into, if you can find that synergy. There’s all kinds of creative ways that you can start to get involved.”
Such work doesn’t even have to be in the legal team, Ms Bullock added. If you love a particular cause and are interested in its work, “it will enhance your wellbeing incredibly” if you just start working for that cause, using whatever skills you might have to assist that cause, she posited.
“One of the phenomenal things I’ve learned at Greenpeace is that we have a small legal team but – when looking at any other team in the organisation, whether it’s digital or campaigning or our board or senior management team – so many of them have law degrees, but they’re working in a commercial or digital space,” she said.
“All of those soft skills, the negotiation, persuasion, the critical analysis, they carry across. You can create so much change when you understand the power dynamics and when you understand mindsets. That’s what they teach you at law school.”
One doesn’t always have to aspire to be the general counsel, Ms Bullock mused, nor does one even have to have their ‘legal counsel hat’ on at all times to feel good about the work they’re doing.
“There’s so many ways you can contribute and create meaning in your life, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be through your legal work. It’s terrific if it can be, and you can find an avenue through which to do that,” she said.
“There’s so many not-for-profits that are always looking for legal volunteers, that are always looking for people with a law degree and those sorts of skills to assist them in their actions, their campaigns, in the work they do.”
“So, reach out! I know the industry would love to hear from you.”
Separately on the podcast, Ms Bullock argued that it is “absolutely essential” for general counsel, and lawyers within the team, to adopt a sustainable approach in managing a business’s interests, thereby ensuring greater environmental awareness.
To listen to Jerome’s full conversation with Ms Bullock, click below: