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Lawyers can become business leaders

27 December 2016

In an increasingly regulated business environment, the skills and knowledge that commercial lawyers bring to the corporate sector highlight their potential as the next business leaders. Given that international markets and emerging business trends tend to impact the way local business is conducted, lawyers looking to enter the world of corporate leadership will need to identify their strengths and weaknesses and upskill accordingly.

As a reality check, legal professionals may be viewed as poor business operators, let alone corporate leaders. Lawyers can be viewed as conservative, obsessed with perfection, overly concerned with risk and lacking in creative drive to be able to inspire or lead others. This is an unfair and simplistic rap, particularly given the fact that lawyers possess a range of highly sophisticated skills and traits that are core for successful entrepreneurship and corporate leadership.

Maturity, credibility, lateral thinking, self-direction and the ability to influence others are key leadership traits visible in lawyers. In addition, their work culture revolves around problem-solving and dogged diligence. Lawyers are certainly not afraid of hard work, and their strong communication skills make them highly versatile relationship-builders. In addition, commercial and corporate lawyers not only exude business acumen but are also proven to be lateral thinkers and negotiators. However, in a highly competitive business environment, legal risk management and problem-solving skills may not be sufficient. If you are wanting to become a business leader, here are some suggestions that can add to your existing set of skills.

Gain experience in sales, market and product development

Generally, lawyers engaged by businesses as in-house counsel or advisors tend to focus on risk mitigation. This provides a limited scope for contributing to the development of ideas and strategies in the areas on which business leaders, such as CEOs and company directors, are routinely assessed. By gaining experience in sales, market strategy or product development, you can have greater input into the direction of a business and be seen as an entrepreneur rather than a ‘black-letter’ lawyer.

Become a specialist

Gaining a legal specialisation ensures you stand out from the rest. As the cost of outsourcing legal advice continues to rise, companies and businesses can benefit from having expert business lawyers in executive roles, such as directors or board members. This can translate not only into significant savings for a business, but it can also help you to position yourself in a role where you can have an input into corporate governance.

Pursue mentoring opportunities

Invest time in expanding your network. Find lawyers who have made the transition into business leadership and who may be willing to share their story, experience and other useful insights. You will be amazed to see that more often than not, successful business people are happy to mentor and help you advance your goals.

Embrace technology

To successfully progress from lawyer to business leader, you need to have a solid grasp of technology including online marketing and social media platforms. There is no doubt that tech-savvy leaders will progressively have an advantage as online businesses and startups continue to grow and expand across borders.

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in technology and upgrade your legal skillset is to study online. Southern Cross University now offers a fully online LLM in Business Law, so you can hone your expertise in business as well as learn on the most dynamic and flexible learning platforms.

If you’re interested in gaining your LLM in Business Law and advancing your career prospects to business leadership, call an SCU Online Student Enrolment Advisor today on 1300 589 882.