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What to Look for When Recruiting In-House Counsel Talent

Posted on September 2023

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The journey of in-house counsel is one of change, growth, and increasing complexity. As businesses have become more globalized and regulations more intricate, the need for specialized, in-house legal expertise has grown exponentially. But what should you look for when recruiting in-house counsel talent?

The Journey of In-House Counsel

Historically, many companies outsourced their legal needs to external firms. However, as businesses expanded and the complexity of their operations grew, the demand for dedicated, in-house legal expertise became evident.

An in-house counsel not only understands the nuances of the law but also the intricacies of the business they work for. They have the advantage of being immersed in a company's culture, business model, and overall objectives, enabling them to provide tailored legal advice that aligns with the company's goals.

How the In-House Counsel Role Has Developed

Over the years, the in-house counsel role has evolved from being just a legal advisor to a strategic partner. Today, in-house lawyers are involved in business strategy formulation, risk management, and even public relations.

Additionally, in-house counsels are expected to wear many hats. They're negotiators, litigators, contract drafters, and often educators within the company, ensuring that every department remains compliant.

The Key Skills and Experience You Should Be Looking For

  1. Expertise in Relevant Areas: Depending on your industry, having expertise in specific areas like intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, or international law might be essential.

  2. Business Acumen: A deep understanding of business strategies and models is vital. In-house counsel needs to align their advice with business objectives.

  3. Communication Skills: They must be able to communicate complex legal topics in simple terms that stakeholders can understand.

  4. Adaptability: With the constantly changing landscape of business and law, adaptability is key.

  5. Ethical Judgement: The counsel's role often requires making decisions that adhere to both the law and the company's ethical standards.

Attracting Top In-House Counsel

  1. Competitive Compensation: Top talent often comes at a premium. Offering competitive salaries and benefits in line with or exceeding industry benchmarks can attract the best in the field.

  2. Ongoing Professional Development: Offer opportunities for them to grow and expand their skills, whether through courses, qualifications, seminars, or workshops.

  3. Work-Life Balance: Flexibility in working hours or remote work can be a big draw.

  4. A Seat at the Table: Giving them a voice in strategic decisions can make the position more appealing.

Assessing Skills During an Interview

When interviewing potential in-house counsel, it's essential to test not just their legal expertise but also their soft skills.

  • Case Studies: Present them with a business scenario and ask how they would navigate disputes or legal challenges.

  • Behavioral Questions: Understand how they've managed ethical dilemmas or conflicts in the past.

  • Situational Judgement Tests: These can give insights into their decision-making processes.

  • Communication: Ask them to explain a legal concept or scenario to a non-legal stakeholder, evaluating their ability to clearly communicate complex legal matters.

  • Crisis Management: Presenting a hypothetical crisis situation evaluates their ability to stay composed and provide legal guidance in high-pressure scenarios.

Remember, you're looking for a strategic partner, not just a legal advisor.

Need Expertise in In-House Counsel Recruitment? Contact Larson Maddox

Finding the right in-house counsel can be challenging. If you need assistance or have questions about the recruitment process, don't hesitate to reach out to the Larson Maddox talent team. With expertise in recruiting top legal talent, we can guide you in finding the perfect fit for your organization.

The role of in-house counsel has never been more crucial. With the right recruitment strategies, you can ensure you're hiring a professional who will be a true asset to your company. If you're looking to hire or need advice on the recruitment process, request a call back from our team. We're here to help and guide you every step of the way.