You are not alone: Networking is key

The transition from private practice to an in-house role is daunting, writes Tim Wilbur

The transition from private practice to an in-house role is daunting, and it can also be incredibly lonely. 

If you become the sole lawyer on a team or join a small in-house department, you lose a network of peers to bounce ideas off. If you join a large department, you are taking on a whole new culture that no longer rewards the same behaviours.  

Leaving no stone unturned is not generally encouraged, but short and pithy is. You become an employee first and a lawyer second, and people want your counsel, not just your legal advice. 

How to succeed is no longer “business development 101.” You now need to network with your peers, but with many events run by law firms, it can be a challenge to do this. 

As an independent media organization, we know that our editorial coverage helps to provide insight in how your peers are dealing with these issues. However, we also know that networking in person is necessary to learn some of the softer skills. 

With that in mind, we will be launching several events this year. The inaugural Canadian Law Awards in May will recognize in-house legal departments for their work. And we are launching the InHouse Counsel Summit in September, which will provide a day for in-house counsel to network and learn together. 

On the other extreme, there are ethical issues that in-house counsel face that are so sensitive, it is a challenge to share at all. As Cheryl Foy and Ken Fredeen outline in their inaugural Ethics column, in-house counsel who fail to address illegal behaviour face serious professional and reputational consequences. 

Foy’s and Fredeen’s column will provide a way to think through some of the thorny issues that in-house lawyers deal with alone. They have encouraged readers to send anonymous questions here and will use their column to explore solutions. 

While you may feel lonely when dealing with these issues, you do have many peers tackling the same issues. It takes a bit of effort to seek them out, but when you do, you will realize you are not alone.  

Find out more about our upcoming events by visiting canadianlawyermag.com/events.

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