All attorneys obtain professional training in regards to how to work in a traditional law firm setting and in regards to how to work with other attorneys. However, not all attorneys bring an enhanced practical skill set that distinguishes them from non-legal professionals in a corporate office. Attorneys that work in the corporate setting must bring more than practical legal skills to enhance their professional reputation in a corporate office. Below are some tips on how to enhance your professional reputation as an attorney in a corporate office.1. Learn how to Write for a Non-Legal Audience:
Legal writing courses offered in law school teach you how to draft various types of complex legal documents. The technical writing skills that attorneys develop through their law school education are still relevant in a corporate environment for practicing attorneys. However, survival in a competitive corporate office requires attorneys to understand how to write legalese in plain English, understand how to often draft various other types of corporate documents that have more of a business foundation than a legal foundation or documents that have both a business and legal foundation.
- Learn how to write about complex legal concepts in plain English
- Learn how to include and incorporate the specific business concerns of the corporate office in your legal analysis
Attorneys that work in a corporate office must learn how to work with professionals that are not always other legal professionals. They must learn how to work with professionals that have significant training in business management, operations, and sometimes accounting. In order to successfully thrive in an environment where you might be the only attorney, you must learn how to adapt to the business concerns sometimes overpowering the legal concerns or risks involved in any specific transaction that might take place, you will have to understand operational aspects of the office and work with operations related functions, and you will have to work in conjunction with accounting professionals occasionally to resolve financial matters that intersect with the legal concerns of the office.
- Learn how to not be personally affected when a business need overrides a legal concern
- Learn how to be a team player that is actively involved in the operational aspects of your corporate office. This will add value to your office, and your office will appreciate your effort and involvement in this significant area of the office
- Learn basic accounting principles to enhance your understanding of billing processes that exist within the office and the budget related matters
Attorneys that work in the corporate environment often must be familiar with various types of software programs that facilitate both business and legal transactions.
- Learn to be adept with Power Point, Word, and Excel
- Learn to be adept with various types of template production software programs that are utilized to create new templates from inception and revise older templates of documents previously created
- Learn how to be adept with various types of time record keeping software
- Learn how to be adept with various types of data and document storage portals
- Learn to sharpen your skills with legal software programs because you might be the sole source of information regarding the software and the point of contact for that specific software utilized within the corporate office
- Learn how to be comfortable drafting standard operating procedures for legal tools used for the utilization of the program by non-legal professionals
4. Learn how to Effectively Conduct Research about both Business and Legal Concerns
Attorneys that work in the corporate environment must understand that both business and legal concerns require further research through various online mediums. Business research may involve research through online platforms that are not discussed in the law school setting. Thus, it is the responsibility of the attorney to investigate the business needs of the office and determine whether there is training provided for the medium utilized. Legal research will obviously be a responsibility, however, in order to enhance your professional reputation within the office, you can find more cost effective methods of conducting legal research that may save the company extra expenses from being incurred on your behalf.
- Investigate whether there are trainings offered online through various mediums utilized for business research
- Find cost effective solutions for legal research that save the company money over time
Attorneys that have a strong legal background in specific areas of the law such as corporate law, insurance law, employment law, tax law, alternative dispute resolution and negotiations, and contract law tend to fair the best in the corporate environment. Some of the professional associations that might provide supplemental training for attorneys:
- National Contract Management Association
- American Bar Association
- State Bar Associations
Attorneys in the corporate environment will face challenges that they do not face in the law firm setting. However, attorneys in today’s legal market should remain grateful for the highly valuable and prestigious experience they receive outside of a law firm setting. Attorneys that thrive and succeed in the corporate environment must compete with other non-legal professionals in environments where most of the leadership team is not comprised of other attorneys, and they must not only bring a strong practical legal skill set, but also, they must bring strong business acumen about how to navigate the more competitive corporate battlefield in today’s modern professional market.