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Law talent 'can be useful in boardroom'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 27/03/13

There are many things that an in-house lawyer, considering a career change, might consider themselves to be unable to do. For instance, 20 years of experience in the world of tax law does not produce a skill-set that can be easily transferred to tending cattle on a ranch in Nevada, whatever the cowboy-hat wearing guy three desks along from you daydreams about in the shower every morning.

But while he may never achieve his dream of cooking his dinner in a tin pot every night and waking up to the smell of hay and horses, lawyers considering a move into the boardroom are more likely to reach their aims, according to a new report.

The study, carried out by KPMG and law firm Reed Smith, suggested that UK and US corporate divisions are increasingly turning to the legal sector when looking for new executives, largely because the kind of talents involved in succeeding as a top lawyer are closely connected with those utilised in the boardroom.

Reed Smith learning and development director Nigel Spencer said: "There is a great opportunity for the legal profession to do more to foster these skills and have a meaningful impact on the broader business community."

"The analysis of risk and reward necessitates a commercial mindset. In an in-house role you are likely to be physically closer to the business but, in private practice, you can build that linkage too," he added.

Although this is not a novel concept - many lawyers have followed the tried-and-tested route from legal work to the boardroom in the past - it is possible that the complex legislative tangle facing companies on both sides of the Atlantic could have sharpened their desire to bring in people with experience dealing with these kinds of issues effectively.

For lawyers putting away their saddle and taking off their spurs, a bright future as a corporate leader could be the next step in their career ladder.