Making the Leap: Being a Lawyer in a Non-Legal Role
Erika Ringseis, Manager, Compliance, Diversity & Mobility, TransCanada PipeLines Limited, Canada
Maybe the business unit you support as in-house counsel is so impressed with your work that they want you to join them. Maybe you work long hours and look longingly to other departments, or other organizations, thinking that you may be able to achieve better balance in your life. Maybe you have reached a pinnacle in your legal career and seek a new challenge. Are you ready to take the leap from legal into a business unit?
Lawyers, especially in-house counsel, may be presented with the opportunity to try a new role in an organization, outside of the legal department. Some trepidation may accompany the decision, including fear of the unknown, aversion to risk and change and concern about the impact on your career and psyche. This article is intended as an entertaining discussion of possible concerns and considerations for a lawyer in a non-lawyer role. Obviously individual factors and opportunities will vary, and any individual may have specific needs and concerns to address and consider before making a major career move. Nevertheless, as I have considered my own decision and discussed with other lawyers the choices they made and their experiences, common themes have emerged. Below I have consolidated the themes and experiences into top 10 considerations for an attorney considering making a leap out of the legal department. Of course, not all considerations will be relevant for all lawyers moving into the business world, nor would all former in-house lawyers agree with each point below.
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