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GC Career Track – the path to success

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    Eversheds Sutherland launches a research report – GC Career Track for in-house lawyers

    A new research report – GC Career Track published by Eversheds Sutherland has identified the most useful training and experience to succeed in-house.

    The research, gathered from in-depth interviews of over 140 General Counsel (GC), aspiring GCs, The Law Society, BPP , University Law Departments and search firms, also identifies the obstacles faced by in-house lawyers when it comes to achieving their career ambitions and provides guidance as in-house counsel plot their career track towards the GC role or other senior management positions.

    Recent Law Society figures reveal 30,000 in-house lawyers registered in England and Wales, which is the fastest growing category of lawyer year on year, yet GCs face a number of obstacles to progression including in-house structure, lack of relevant training and visibility.

    At the same time the role of the in-house lawyer is facing fundamental change. Increasingly sophisticated technology and Artificial Intelligence, combined with an environment of growing regulation and compliance, means that the most successful GCs are now seen as a business adviser to the board. As a result, it is essential that in-house counsel are equipped with new and better management and analytical skills to enable them to provide the best service to the board.

    Through a series of workshops with Eversheds Sutherland, GC’s shared their practical suggestions as to how the next generation need to develop their career skills. This included the need for formal management training, mentoring and gaining experience in a non-legal role either on secondment internally or with an external trusteeship or Non-executive role.

    Watch Chris Fowler, General Counsel of BT’s Technology Services and Operations division, reflect on his in-house career with Eversheds Sutherland’s Client Development Partner Denise Jagger.

    By analysing the skills and experience of existing GCs, there were some clear indicators of success. The report instructs aspiring GCs to develop better commercial awareness, take measured risks, move out of their comfort zone and greatly improve their communication and influencing skills. Meanwhile existing GCs need to plan for more succession, provide greater visibility of the path to succession and provide the right type of opportunities for their teams.

    In addition to the report, Eversheds Sutherland has also developed an in-house competency framework as a guide to help legal teams produce their own framework and enable in-house to develop their own career path.

    Commenting on the report, Client Development Partner Denise Jagger said:

    “I hope that this report provides guidance to existing GCs seeking to plan for succession, assists aspiring GCs to plot their own career development and stimulates others in the profession to think about their suitability for roles not only in in–house legal management but in management more broadly.

    “The rapidly changing nature of in-house means that some companies are providing opportunities for in-house to develop by making a broad business contribution but many do not. Educators also need to take responsibility as there is a lack of knowledge among law students as to what skills and characteristics are required beyond the purely technical ones and indeed the breadth and challenging nature of roles in-house.”

    “Ultimately the most ambitious assume responsibility for their own development, however a clearer framework for progression would help ensure that the most talented are prepared to seize opportunities and to demonstrate the necessary skills and experience required to make it to the top.”

    For more information on Eversheds Sutherland, visit


    This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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