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Why Soft Skills Matter in Executive Law Jobs – James McCormick

October 12, 2019

Erik: Why is understanding company cultural
fit so critical when weighing a decision to transition from a law firm to an in-house
position? James: In many respects you will see a – sort
of a shrinking of the environment. It is going to be a lot smaller, there are going to be
fewer people doing what it is you do than in a big law firm setting. So, at that stage,
you are going to know fairly quickly on whether or not substantively you have a match, whether
someone really can perform in the way a particular company is looking for a lawyer to perform.
Now, maybe more importantly is the question of whether or not longer term that context,
that environment is one that will be personally satisfying. That comes from the idea of can
you develop, maintain, really extend deep personal relationships and ones that will
benefit individuals from a mentoring, from a substantive, from a personal perspective. Erik: What about the softer skills such as
engaging with boards of directors and company executives as well as potential clients? James: I think that law firms can certainly
assist younger lawyers in putting them in those scenarios, helping them experience that
type of context, putting them in boardrooms, having them attend executive meetings, really
enabling them to develop that part of their professional existence. However, at the end
of the day, there are people that just excel at it and those that don’t. Those that do excel at it really do find themselves
at the forefront of whether it be law firm practices, many respects general counsels
in large companies have an extremely difficult, sophisticated role that requires them to manage
a lot of different personalities, handle difficult situations and to be able to do so in a manner
that basically keeps everybody as happy as possible.

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