It used to be that the general counsel was the only lawyer who needed to think about long term business strategies. Now those skills are in demand among all staff attorneys, according to Law.com.
Mid level attorneys could once focus on traditional lawyer skills: They were supposed to research laws for the benefit of the GC. Their findings were typically filtered through the GC.
But companies have been overhauled: The GC now spends more time with the company board in a partnership role.
That means business is key early in a lawyer’s career: Which in many ways means not just studying the law but figuring out how to apply the law to the business. Susanna McDonald, chief legal counsel for the Association of Corporate Counsel, told Law.com younger attorneys need to know how to identify the laws that impact the operations of a business and how to navigate around them.
Communication also matters
With the GC spending time around the board, mid-level counsel will be speaking -- and listening -- to almost everyone else in the business. “With communication comes really good listening skills,” McDonald told Law.com. “I think that is where the emotional intelligence comes up the most; listening and understanding what an individual is telling you.”
Coronavirus has been speeding up change in many facets of legal and business culture. Expect the same here, especially because legal departments have had to wear more hats than ever these last few months. The type of attorney who can get lost in case law all day without interacting regularly with clients will likely only become rarer.