Recently, Georgie Miller hosted our ‘the growing market for junior in-house lawyers webinar’ and they were joined by three fantastic panellists, one of which was Kunaal Wharfe | Deputy General Counsel | Dentu International. After the event, I decided to delve more into the subject with Kunaal to further discuss how best to build and develop a career as an in-house lawyer.
Does it matter what area of law you qualified into/what seats you did when making the move in-house?
Absolutely not! A ‘can do’ attitude and a thirst for learning and getting stuck into anything that comes your way is far more important. Some roles may look for certain experience but there are plenty of roles and teams who will be happy to take on someone who may not have had direct experience of what that team undertakes for a candidate who can demonstrate adaptability in moving to a different area of law.
What is the difference between a Legal Counsel and Senior Legal Counsel role? What tips can you provide to prepare a candidate for a Senior Legal Counsel promotion?
One of the key differentiators between a legal counsel and senior legal counsel role is the step up in taking the initiative and ownership for improving an in-house legal team. Identifying issues, designing and implementing solutions. If you are preparing for an interview for a senior legal counsel role, think about how you have demonstrated improving how a legal team works or how have you used initiative beyond the day to day of your role. It will be a given that you can negotiate and draft, but what are you doing beyond that? Supervision and mentoring of junior lawyers is another way to demonstrate operating at a more senior level.
What have you enjoyed the most about moving in-house?
Being part of a business. Understanding how a business works and being able to input into direction and strategy. Being closer to the products and services and being there from day 1 on a project or a matter and understanding the full context and background.
Do you think not getting any private practice experience could be detrimental to a legal career?
I think it can be beneficial but its not detrimental. There are an increasing number of people who have trained and qualified in-house and they have a very different experience and mindset to approaching situations. I think it’s good to have a mix of people of different backgrounds in an in-house team. It certainly wouldn’t put me off interviewing or hiring a candidate if they only had in-house experience and in some cases it can be an advantage.
Watch the webinar in full here.
If you would like further information on working within the banking and financial services markets, please contact Will Skinner.
If you would like further information on with corporate and commercial businesses, please contact Georgie.