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Holmes Lilley Shares His Advice on How to Build a Successful Career as a General Counsel
The path to becoming a lawyer is straightforward. However, once you enter the legal field as a trained professional, the path to success can become much less clear. For many lawyers, a career goal is obvious but how to achieve that goal is uncertain. Fortunately, there are several steps that lawyers can take to ensure they are in a position to succeed. These aspects of career development are especially important for those looking to become a general counsel.
Holmes Lilley of Newport Coast, California, is an accomplished general counsel and entrepreneur. He has worked as general counsel for both public and private companies and has a proven record of strong leadership, trustworthy legal counsel, and business expertise. Here he shares his insight on how to build a successful career as a lawyer and general counsel.
Focus on Gaining Experience
Experience is the most notable factor separating accomplished lawyers from others. Experience allows a lawyer to develop superior judgment and therefore offer better legal counsel. Lawyers are required to effectively consider various inputs and outcomes on a daily basis. Therefore, impeccable judgment is a highly sought-after characteristic. This is particularly true for general counsel, as these lawyers are often faced with complicated situations and must rely on their experience and judgment. Holmes Lilley notes that a lawyer hoping to become general counsel should have experience in various areas of the law, specifically those related to business activities. The more experience you gain throughout your career, the more opportunity you will have and the more likely you are to be successful.
Don’t Turn Down Opportunity
In order to expand your legal knowledge and experience, never turn down a good opportunity. In addition to gaining new skills, opportunities to take on different tasks and responsibilities can also afford you the chance to interact with new people, including executives and business owners. For general counsel, strong leadership skills are highly sought-after. Therefore, Holmes Lilley suggests seeking out opportunities where you can lead a team. This will allow you to develop and practice leadership skills, which will be helpful in succeeding as a general counsel.
Practice Your Communication Skills
Good communication skills are imperative for lawyers. A general counsel, in particular, must be able to effectively communicate not only with legal associates but also with business owners, management, and other employees. These individuals may or may not be accustomed to legal topics and jargon, therefore, the ability to explain legal matters in a way that is easy to understand is essential to the job. General counsel must also be able to communicate in a confident and precise manner. Holmes Lilley advises practicing your communication skills whenever you get the chance. These skills can be practiced in networking settings and new skills can be developed at seminars and conferences.
Holmes Lilley on Developing Business Knowledge
To be a successful general counsel, it is helpful to be familiar with financial management, accounting, business strategy, marketing, and other business-related topics. This knowledge will help you to better understand business outcomes and decisions so that you can offer the most effective legal advice. In addition to assisting general counsel in making more informed decisions, business knowledge can also help a lawyer effectively discuss these day-to-day topics with other members of the organization and legal team. Holmes Lilley recommends taking a class or attending a seminar on key business topics. This will contribute to your success by helping you develop a well-rounded knowledge base.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes