Page 8 - CCCA 250375 Magazine_Summer 2016
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{ Career management }

in-houSe CAreer growth:

whAt doeS it look like to You?

By Catherine Chow

after eight years as the Keg’s only in-house lawyer, the
President came into my offce one morning and said,
“Congratulations, Catherine, you are now Vice-President Legal
and general Counsel. the title goes with what you have been
doing all along, but now people outside the organization will
know how important you are to this company.”

was elated! A title change that I hadn’t of which have been in-house, I still remain
been chasing suddenly meant so much focused on growing professionally.
i to me. However, in terms of workload,
it meant little more than having to get Small Steps today, big impact tomorrow
a new business card—which led me to Although unique to the stage and goals of
contemplate what it means for in-house each person’s career, a common element
counsel to advance professionally. of professional growth is broadening your
Early in their decision to go in-house, skills or knowledge base. Whether you un-
lawyers must spend considerable time de- dertake a formal accredited program or
bating the merits and drawbacks of an in- participate in a select set of CLEs, develop-
house career. While there are many bene- ing your skills and knowledge makes you
fts, after a few years in-house, lawyers run a better lawyer and increases your profes-
the risk of career stagnation if the work sional network—both of which lead to
becomes repetitive and mundane, if they more opportunities for advancement.
let their professional contact circle narrow In-house counsel are fortunate to have
or if they reach the top of their organiza- development opportunities right within
tion’s legal department. So how do you their own organizations. You can volun-
keep growing in-house? teer to take on more responsibilities in
There is no consensus on what career non-legal business units, like HR, fnance
advancement means for in-house counsel. or special projects. While branching out-
Some chase higher compensation, a heftier side of the traditional legal framework
title or job security, while others set out may mean steep learning curves, it is a
to gain notoriety in the legal profession welcome challenge for most. In-house
or broaden their practice into non-legal counsel can parlay their newly acquired
business roles. It is important to think skills and knowledge into increased infu-
carefully about what advancement means ence within the organization, rendering
to you and how you can grow profession- them indispensable and worthy of higher
ally. Mindlessness about your career can compensation.
result in feeling undercompensated, bored In addition, you can’t go wrong by
and generally dissatisfed, often at a stage adding a well-chosen education com-
in life when career changes are harder to ponent to your in-house career. When
make. After almost 20 years of practice, 10 I completed my master’s degree in law

8 CCCa MagazIne | SUMMer 2016 été
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