How to facilitate a sector switch – part three

August 12, 2022

How to facilitate a sector switch with Lisa Maxwell, General Counsel, FE fundinfo

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 Lisa Maxwell, General Counsel at FE fundinfo, as she discusses her move from the Media sector to the Tech/Financial Services sector.

“It is important to develop one’s network; either through 
recruiters or through alumni networks from law firms.
The importance of this is that it allows one to get a
real insight into what different sectors are like
and what issues can arise.”

​Briefly describe your career history.
I am General Counsel at FE fundinfo, a leading provider of data, analytics, software and investment solutions to the global asset and wealth management industries. FE fundinfo is backed by Hg, a private equity company. Prior to that I was Head of Legal (EMEA and APAC) at Informa PLC, an information services and events company within the FTSE 100, and Assistant Counsel at C&C Group plc, a listed drinks company. I trained and qualified at Slaughter and May.

How did you facilitate a sector transition?
I have worked in several sectors during my in-house career. The sector shapes the detail of what one will be involved in day to day and there will always be a steep learning curve when one moves into a new sector. However, the areas of law I have focussed on have been consistent throughout all my roles, namely, corporate and commercial law. Moreover, there are other skills which are important regardless of sector; how to be an effective partner to the business, how to manage teams and horizon scanning. In respect to my most recent role I gave a lot of consideration to which sectors interested me and which I thought offered good growth prospects. I spoke to my own in-house network to really understand what different sectors were like.

How have you found the change and what challenges have you experienced?
All the challenges have been positive so far. A listed business is different to a private equity backed business. I have had to understand the asset management sector in more detail as well as a new regulatory landscape (part of the business is regulated).
It goes without saying being a General Counsel is different in terms of responsibility and remit than being Head of Legal. As a General Counsel ones proximity to the board and key decision makers means one will have more strategic input at a higher level.

What advice do you have for any lawyers looking to move sectors?
It is important to develop ones network; either through recruiters or through alumni networks from law firms. The importance of this is that it allows one to get a real insight into what different sectors are like and what issues can arise. I have developed strong relationships with a number of law firm partners who have become valuable mentors and have flagged opportunities to me throughout my career.

Next article is with Adam Hirschovits, General and Commercial Counsel at The Roald Dahl Story Company, who discusses his move from Financial Services sector to the Publishing. 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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