How to facilitate a sector switch – part four

August 12, 2022

How to facilitate a sector switch with Adam Hirschovits, General and Commercial Counsel, The Roald Dahl Story Company

Changing industry sectors, particularly at the senior level, is often perceived as being extremely difficult due to the scarcity of opportunities and the sheer number of highly suitable senior lawyers. However, it is possible if you are tenacious and tap into your network. Our team of in-house consultants had the opportunity to speak to five senior lawyers from across the world who have successfully facilitated a sector switch.

In Part 3 of this series we speak to Adam Hirschovits, General and Commercial Counsel at The Roald Dahl Story Company, as he discusses his move from the Financial Services sector to Publishing.

“If you feel comfortable in your current sector,
then it is the perfect time to move sector!
As far as the legal side is concerned, do
your homework on the lawyers you use.”

​Briefly describe your career history.
I spent just under a decade in private practice, where I qualified as a corporate lawyer. Whilst it included M&A, I had a wide range of work, including investments, capital markets work, reorganisations and corporate governance advice, encompassing all types of corporate entities. From there, I spent just over a year at an early stage investment house (focussing on tech) as general counsel, where the majority of the work comprised of our initial investments, together with follow on investments, into our portfolio companies. I also worked with those portfolio companies to implement the bare bones of a good legal framework into their structure, which meant I had to get my head around a lot of industries. I was then contacted by The Roald Dahl Story Company, who were looking to hire a general counsel, and I couldn’t say no!

How did you facilitate a sector transition?
The Roald Dahl Story Company were a client from my days in private practice (I loved the books growing up, and had always had a very good relationship with their MD). They were therefore aware of my background, and were extremely understanding of my being a novice to the sector. I was also fortunate in that our media and entertainment counsel were deeply embedded in the company, and I was able to rely on them for much of the sector-specific legal work.

How have you found the change and what challenges have you experienced?
Understanding the sector has been manageable, due to my interest in it. Indeed, it has been extremely enjoyable trying to understand a new sector. However, as far as the legal side is concerned, adapting to this new sector has had its challenges. US-governed media and entertainment law is very far removed from UK commercial law, and one of the biggest challenges I have had is in mistakenly trying to apply UK commercial law principles to US media and entertainment contracts. In this respect, again, I have been fortunate in having great external counsel, who have managed to curb my ingrained instincts when doing so.

What advice do you have for any lawyers looking to move sectors?
If you feel comfortable in your current sector, then it is the perfect time to move sector! As far as the legal side is concerned, do your homework on the lawyers you use. Try and connect with other in house lawyers in the sector who can suggest lawyers (recruiters such as Taylor Root are a great source of introductions to other in house lawyers), and lean on them for guidance as you ease yourself in. As far as general sector awareness itself, this really is just a case of subscribing to trade press, and booking time in with your colleagues to understand their roles within the company and the wider sector. People will always appreciate your taking an interest in their work, and will be more than happy to explain their role to you. Ultimately, legal principles are the same, regardless of your sector. The trick is to understand the underlying motivations of your sector, to see how they impact on the implementation of those legal principles. So don’t be afraid!

Next is the final article in this series, with Emma Dickie, General Counsel at Rain Cryptocurrency Trading Platform, who discusses her move from the Environmental Services sector to the Tech/Financial Services sector. To continue reading click here.

This article appears in our global in-house market report 2022 – click the link to download.

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