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January 11 2023

The Junior Lawyer Lunch 2022 Digest

Industry Insights

sophie gould

sophie gould

Sophie Gould, Head of Learning & Development at Flex Legal, on a background of the Flex ribbon

At Flex Legal, we absolutely love bringing communities of legal professionals together. Our Junior Lawyer Lunches are a great example of this, and we’re proud to have had over 1,000 sign-ups this year alone. We hope these sessions have given our community the opportunity to join together, network, collaborate and keep up-to-speed with all of the latest developments in the legal world.

Whether you’re new to our community or a long-standing member, we’d love to see all of you at our first event of 2023 on Wednesday 1st February. Back by popular demand… the incredible Peter Watson, CEO of Watson’s Daily, will be joining us to deliver a session all about improving your commercial awareness. It’s not one to miss - book your place today!

Until then, it’s been a great year for our lunches, covering topics as broad as hybrid working and legal ops, to ESG and ‘blame culture’. Here’s a handy recap of everything we covered throughout 2022!

Holly Moore, of thatlawblog fame, smiles and looks into the camera.

February: How can future lawyers develop client-centric skill sets?

With Holly Moore, Legal Advisor at ITV and Future Board Member for the O Shaped Lawyer

Our three key takeaways:

  1. Don’t underestimate soft skills - softer people skills are equally as important than any knowledge on black-letter law.
  2. Communication is key - learning how to communicate effectively is crucial. Clients often lack legal knowledge and on the whole, just want to know what they can and can’t do. As a result, being able to get clients on-side and ensuring that they trust you is often the biggest learning curve as a trainee and future lawyer. Knowing the law is important, but how to offer practical and digestible advice to your clients is essential to your success.
  3. Build your commercial awareness by training/working in-house - training and working in-house can help you to develop your business acumen and commercial awareness - vital skills to excel as a lawyer in the real world.

Read the full blog here.

Lubna Shuja - VP of the Law Society, is seen with Joss Saunders - GC and Company Secretary at Oxfam, Natalie Salunke - GC and Head of Legal at RVU, and Laura Uberoi - Senior Finance Solicitor at Macfarlanes.

March: Legal Industry Culture & Ethics - What needs to change?

Chaired by Lubna Shuja, VP of the Law Society, with the panellists: Joss Saunders, GC and Company Secretary at Oxfam; Natalie Salunke, GC and Head of Legal at RVU; and Laura Uberoi, Senior Finance Solicitor at Macfarlanes

Our three key takeaways:

  1. Mistakes can yield great positive outcomes - mistakes are a key part of the learning trajectory and, as we all know, failing to admit to them can only ever make things worse. There are in fact a mountain of benefits when it comes to admitting to a mistake, and doing so can even build trust with clients, as it gives them more reason to believe that you are an honest solicitor and that nothing will be concealed from them.
  2. Get in touch with the SRA’s ethics helpline for support - if you don’t feel comfortable in talking to your supervisor, the SRA has an ethics helpline, giving juniors a safe, confidential space to discuss any mistakes made. We’d also recommend consulting the SRA’s solicitor code of conduct if you’re ever feeling really unsure.
  3. Blame culture is unhealthy for everyone involved - it’s clear that there are many negative consequences of creating a workplace culture where junior lawyers are apprehensive to highlight any mistakes made; and those consequences are arguably worse than the actual mistake itself. Cultivating an environment where colleagues feel comfortable and safe to talk through their mistakes is both healthy and productive for individuals and their organisations as a whole.

Read the full blog here.

The world is divided between solicitors who make mistakes and solicitors who are reluctant to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

Joss Saunders, GC and Company Secretary at Oxfam

Tarun Tawakley, Partner at Lewis Silkin is seen with Chloe Mason-Williams, Head of Legal at EDF Energy.

April: What does it mean to be commercial as a junior lawyer?

With Tarun Tawakley, Partner at Lewis Silkin, and Chloe Mason-Williams, Head of Legal at EDF Energy

Our three key takeaways:

  1. Align your day-to-day work with the overall goals of the business - crystallising your understanding of your organisation’s place in the market will help you to become a more effective business partner, and should shape the way you offer your advice. By better aligning your day-to-day work with the overall goals of the business, you can take your commercial insights to the next level.
  2. The insights of in-house lawyers are essential for overall commercial success - legal departments have an important role to play in facilitating commercial discussions with the rest of the business. With the right awareness of your organisation, its market, the relevant legal issues, and potential outcomes of a new deal, you can offer a commercial oversight that makes the entire company more successful. That, at the end of the day, is the crux of commercial awareness.
  3. Again, never underestimate the importance of soft skills - there’s a practicality to working in law that you never get taught about. As a lawyer, you won’t really ever be brought legal problems to solve. You are given business problems that your colleagues need legal assistance with. Navigating these situations successfully requires keen “soft” skills.

Read the full blog here.

Maaike de Bie, GC and Company Secretary at easyJet

May: Q&A with Maaike, GC at easyJet

Our three key takeaways:

  1. In-house lawyers often need to quickly prove their value - when you work in-house it’s not good enough to say that you’re a lawyer – you have to articulate value and know how to communicate the value you bring. Your colleagues aren’t interested in the law, they just want to know what they can and cannot do.
  2. Take the time to understand your colleagues’ and clients’ needs - the most important thing is to always know your client, and understand your colleagues. Don’t just go into “solutions mode” and start solving problems. Spend time with your colleagues, listen, empathise, and know what they’re trying to achieve. In-house lawyers can often be seen as the enemy, who colleagues come to at the last moment. You want to engage with your colleagues early on to ensure that they understand you’re with them and for them, and want to help them to achieve their goals.
  3. Be confident in your opinions and take a standpoint - when you’re working in-house, you’ll often find yourself in meeting rooms feeling the pressure to avoid “shooting from the hip” and not speaking unless you know all the facts on a case. My advice is to be comfortable with having a view and taking a standpoint, even if you don’t have all of the information in front of you.

Read the full blog here.

A smiling Peter Watson, CEO of Watson’s Daily, is seen

June: How to hone your commercial awareness

With Peter Watson, CEO of Watson’s Daily

The media is a constantly churning machine so there are going to be a lot of stories which will add very little value to your commercial awareness journey. Here’s three handy tips to help you decide which stories are useful, and which are simply filling the news-cycle void:

  1. Relevance - ask yourself, is this story being talked about in current affairs/news? If not, then it’s likely that it’s not worth your time.
  2. Prevalence - is everyone talking about it? This isn’t just about having FOMO, it really is essential to ensure that you have an opinion on all of the most popular, trending topics. (Top tip: in order to grasp the prevalence behind certain stories, it’s important to read a variety of different sources. One or two just won’t cut it unfortunately!)
  3. Impact - does this story have global implications? Is it affecting multiple industries and/or organisations? If so, make sure you’re up-to-date with all the latest developments so you’re ready to talk at length on the impactful topic at hand.

Read the full blog here.

You can spend hours and hours reading commercial information, but if you don't talk about what you know, you won't really be truly aware of what knowledge you have.

Peter Watson, CEO of Watson's Daily

 Simone Davidson, Head of LexisPSL Environment & Environmental Law/ESG Specialist, and Simon Colvin, Partner at Weightmans

September: ESG - what does it mean for junior lawyers?

With Simone Davidson, Head of LexisPSL Environment & Environmental Law/ESG Specialist, and Simon Colvin, Partner at Weightmans

Our three key takeaways:

  1. Get involved and make yourself heard - it’s important for lawyers to lean in, advise and help shape aspects of any strategy or policy related to ESG. This is particularly the case when it comes to protecting your company from greenwashing in any marketing/PR materials by providing support with terminology, sustainability mapping, transparency and accountability.
  2. Help your organisation to work towards achieving net zero - by getting involved (as much as possible) with conversations on the wider ESG strategy, you will also be able to help your organisation to credibly work towards achieving net zero. For example, you could support your organisation by suggesting the inclusion of climate clauses in third party contracts, ensuring supplier sustainability in the long-term.
  3. Do your research and inform organisational strategy - by identifying any rules and policies around ESG that should be in place, you can help your organisation to avoid breaking any relevant legislation. In a financial space, for example, this could be knowing what green bonds, green lines, and sustainability links are. By helping your organisation to adapt their business strategy in response to certain increases in hard law and the evolving legislative environment, you can really show your value and develop strong internal relationships.

Read the full blog here.

Beejal Patel, Legal Systems Manager at Diageo, smiles into the camera as the Flex Legal branding is seen behind her.

October: What is legal ops and why does it matter?

With Beejal Patel, Legal Systems Manager at Diageo

Our three key takeaways:

  1. What is legal ops? - legal operations describes a set of business processes, activities, and the professionals who enable legal departments to serve their clients more effectively by applying business and technical practices to the delivery of legal services.
  2. Technology isn’t always the answer - when it comes to working in legal ops, it’s important to be mindful that the answer isn’t always to implement new technology. Sometimes, it’s about understanding the existing process and being able to challenge it, especially if a department outside legal is in control. Another reason why it’s absolutely essential as a legal ops professional to have strong relationships with both internal and external vendors.
  3. Watch this space - legal ops is on the rise - and it’s one to watch. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the space continue to accelerate and evolve, and it shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

Read the full blog here.

Emma Humphrey, GC at Time Out Group Plc, and Adele Falconer, GC EMEA at Christie's, smile. They are bristling with legal knowledge about hybrid working.

November: How to navigate hybrid working as a junior lawyer

With Emma Humphrey, GC at Time Out Group Plc, and Adele Falconer, GC EMEA at Christie's

Our three key takeaways:

  1. Agree on a working pattern - a great place to start is to agree on a working pattern with your supervisor, ideally when other juniors will also be in the office. This will help you to develop strong relationships with the rest of your team, as well as ensuring that your supervisor can try to come in at the same time as you. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can be really valuable when it comes to asking questions or taking on new tasks. On the other hand, if you’re working on a task that requires a lot of focus, remote working can prove to be very effective.
  2. Keep a list of non-urgent questions for your 121 sessions - if you have a regular 121 chat with your supervisor, it’s a great idea to save any general, non-urgent questions and issues for these chats. This will help you to avoid sending multiple messages to your supervisor throughout the week, and will give them the chance to provide you with full, comprehensive answers.
  3. Working remotely full-time has its drawbacks - as a junior lawyer, a big part of your growth and development comes from learning from your seniors within the office. Although there are many tools which have been designed to make remote working more effective, it’s still difficult to fully replicate face-to-face learning and training.

Read the full blog here.

And that’s all folks… we’ve had a fantastic year of insights, competitive quizzes and peer-to-peer networking throughout our Junior Lawyer Lunch events. We hope you’ve found them as enjoyable as we have, and we can’t wait to see you all again at our events next year!

We hope to see plenty of new and familiar faces at our first event on Wednesday 1st February.

Additional Resources:

  • Sign up to a future Junior Lawyer Lunch - you know, you’re missing most of the fun of our Junior Lawyer Lunches by only reading the summaries. Why not sign up to attend our next one?
  • Apply to become a Flex paralegal - become a paralegal through Flex and gain access to hundreds of legal opportunities, including an array of roles within the legal ops arena.
  • Hire a Flex lawyer or paralegal - on the lookout for an interim legal professional to bolster your team? Perhaps someone who can help with legal ops? Get in touch with us today!