What new knowledge, competencies,
and experience are important?
In this new normal, in-house lawyers
will benefit from not just “
non-traditional” skills, but also greater diversity
in knowledge, experience, and competencies. This is mostly obvious, but
before focusing on skills, I will briefly
mention a few salient points.
Knowledge of the law has always
been the bedrock for lawyers. Whereas
lawyers working in law firms tend
to specialize, many in-house lawyers
benefit from a more general knowledge of a range of legal areas — especially if they aspire to a GC position.
Also, in an increasingly global business world, it helps to develop a global
understanding of the main legal areas
that impact the business of your company — at least to a level to be able
to “spot issues” and then seek more
specific guidance when necessary.
Business knowledge and, in particular, knowledge about the business of the company you work for,
is important for in-house lawyers in
order to provide effective traditional
legal support. This knowledge assumes
greater importance as you do more
non-traditional legal work.
Knowledge about technology is the
other major area that is now crucial
and will become increasingly more
important with modern advancement.
Most in-house lawyers are reasonably
competent at using the basic technologies relevant for their work. However,
you also need to enhance your overall
technology IQ and be able to make informed decisions about what technology to acquire, develop, or leverage.
Integrity and judgement have always
been critical competencies or qualities for in-house lawyers. However,
in times where there is a premium
on innovation and collaboration,
other competencies — like empathy,
foresight, adaptability, resilience, creativity, and emotional IQ — become
It will come as no surprise to hear
that diversity of work and life experi-
ences will provide you with unique
insights and skills that you can apply
to your in-house work. As former
AB InBev General Counsel Sabine
Chalmers suggested: “move out of legal
altogether and go into investor rela-
tions, sales, or M&A. Working in a dif-
ferent geography is also very helpful.” 8
What non-traditional skills
In selecting the skills to include in my
Everything But The Law™ training program, the best reference point was my
own experience as an in-house lawyer.
The skills listed in the graphic below
are the ones that, more so than others,
really helped me to innovate, collaborate, and add significant value over and
above providing legal advice. Learning
how to do these things will help you
become a T-shaped lawyer.
Below is a brief explanation of these
non-traditional skills and an indication as to why they are important for
in-house lawyers to implement.
A process is any sequence of events
with a start and an end point and
a series of actions and decisions in
THE T–SHAPED LAWYER
Critical skills for innovation & collaboration
40 ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE COUNSEL
THE T-SHAPED LAWYER