Frolic and Detour:
Career Transitions on the
Path to In-house Leadership
By Lea Ann King, Megan Belcher, and Miriam Frank
No path to leadership in law can be fully planned, nor will it unfurl without
transition or complexity. Careers focused on growth and an ascendance to
in-house leadership require a bit of “frolic and detour.” Each of these detours,
whether upward, downward, or side-to-side, require agility and a strategy for
managing the transition. In this article, we share insight, advice, and techniques
from a number of different perspectives so that you can leverage your next in-house career transition. Thoughtfully and intentionally managing these changes
— whether self-imposed or foisted upon you — is a critical skillset for those who
aspire to sustainably lead in-house.
■■ ■ Stretch yourself. As you consider a stretch role or opportunity, begin by identifying your
strengths, neutralizing your weaknesses, and getting others to invest in your success.
Understand that by accepting a stretch role, you are no longer an expert on the subject.
■■ ■ Into the promotion. Once you’ve finally received your promotion, it’s important to take
some time before making significant changes in your new sphere of responsibility.
Engage your team in the changes you want to make to get their input.
■■ ■ Expanding and contrasting. Evolving business conditions can sometimes lead to a reduction
in in-house responsibilities. Look for an opportunity in this change, and remember that it’s
important for a leader to look beyond the personal impact before considering next steps.
■■ ■ All in the tone. It’s important to be perceived as a serious candidate. Clearly state your
interests and only consider opportunities that allow you to build upon those elements.