The age of coronavirus has highlighted the need for in-house legal services more than ever before, and as such, counsel must put themselves forward to grow professionally if they are to thrive and support their employers.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Upguard general counsel Theo Kapodistrias said that the global pandemic has demonstrated the value of in-house legal services more than ever, meaning that vocational pathways for emerging and aspiring legal leaders in-house have evolved in turn.
“Organisations needed more support throughout the pandemic with most issues occurring in business needing legal support to help solve problems and mitigate against additional things going wrong,” he said.
“I would argue that the value of having in-house counsel has been identified and is hopefully something which increases going forward.”
In response to such needs, a window is open for legal professionals to seek out pathways that speak to their vocational ambitions, Mr Kapodistrias said.
“I think some practical steps can be to speak to organisations that appeal to you, that may require in-house legal assistance,” he mused.
“Sometimes putting yourself forward to others may work in your favour. LinkedIn also is a great place to search for new opportunities, and provides you the chance to discover other employees who work for that particular company.”
There can be challenges, he ceded, for those considering jumping from one industry to another – “it can sometimes appear that someone from one industry may not be the appropriate fit for another because they do not have experience in that space”, he noted.
However, Mr Kapodistrias does not ultimately believe this should be an issue for emerging leaders in-house, he surmised.
“For me, I believe we should be able to demonstrate, through how we communicate and how we can demonstrate our value, that we may be the best candidate for a position. Sometimes becoming more familiar with a particular industry, such as using the industry terminology, understanding how an industry works would definitely assist someone who is looking to take a leap,” he said.
When asked what GCs and CLOs such as himself will be looking for in legal counsel looking to establish themselves in such ways moving forward, Mr Kapodistrias said: “I would like to see individuals being able to understand and articulate the challenges that are faced by organisations similar to my own, and how their skills and expertise would be able to assist within the organisation.”
“Problem solving skills, communication skills, and the ability to adapt and use technology are going to be really important for the future generation, particularly is looking to embark on an in-house career,” he advised.
Seeking out new opportunities in a marketplace in which in-house lawyers are more sought after was important for Mr Kapodistrias as well, having recently moved across to Upguard from the University of Tasmania.
A new challenge, he reflected, is always important.
“I was in my previous role for just shy of six years, so it was important for my growth and development to try something new. Venturing into a new sector was also really critical, as I wanted to diversify my skills and not get branded as someone who can only work in a single sector,” he explained.
“I am a big advocate that skills are transferable and I was fortunate to have developed and learnt a lot in my previous position that meant I was prepared for many challenges.”