- On July 19, 2015
GCs do more than opine on legal issues. They are being evaluated on strategy, influence, and executive presence. To climb the in-house ladder, lawyers need to understand what are the corporate dynamics in play and how to get things done. The key soft skills top lawyers must have, according to the GCs of Varian, NVIDIA, AOptix and Adroll, are:
- Cross-functional influencing skills. You need to bring consensus across groups, and choreograph how the issues are handled.
- Organizational intelligence (“a kinder way of saying ‘office politics’”). Know who are the power centers allied with Legal, and what levers can be used.
- Be flexible and adaptable. Now is a golden time for lawyers since companies are growing across borders and technologies. As a result, companies need Legal to provide diverse viewpoints and counseling on a variety of areas beyond the traditional corporate/securities, litigation and commercial, e.g., on trade/compliance, cyberlaw, cross-border, etc. Be ready to advise on new fields.
- Develop relationships throughout your career. Foster relationships with not only upper management, but also people at all levels and functions because a key role of GCs is to spot issues and know who can resolve them. To build rapport (with even difficult people), always be authentic, e.g., by finding a way to get along and forging something long term.