Kasia began her legal career with ANS Group as a Paralegal, becoming their Sole In-house Legal Adviser. Her golden nugget of advice: "You must genuinely understand the business, how it works, how it makes money."
In this series, BCL Legal Co-Founder and In-house Managing Director, Mark Levine, finds out a bit more about how lawyers who work in-house have got to where they are, what they do, what they feel are important character traits to have... and what lawyers considering a move in-house should think about!
What / who made you consider law as a career?
From a very young age I aspired to be either a doctor or a lawyer. Since I faint at the sight of blood, medicine was no longer an option! In all seriousness, growing up, it always seemed to be a position of influence and importance and that’s what I wanted from my career.
Being in a unique position to help individuals, groups and organisations with their legal problems was what drawn me into law.
What do you enjoy most about working as an in-house lawyer?
The interface with the upper level management and executives. Having this exposure allows me to be an integral part of the business impacting bottom line. Also, the variety of the legal work, from commercial contracts, employment to regulatory and governance, assisting on mergers and acquisitions; contributing to risk management and business development.
What attracted you to work for your current company?
IT is an always changing, ever-growing sector which is exciting and challenging. There is no average day.
I also like that we have such a big variety of customers from public and private sector.
What are the main deliverables of your role?
To handle and have oversight of legal issues across the business. Advising the board and management team on relevant legal issues and risks as a contribution to their strategic and business planning. Ensuring compliance with all relevant legal, regulatory and ethical standards. Protecting the property and reputation of the company in its contractual arrangements, disputes and otherwise.
What do you feel are the most important character traits of an in-house lawyer?
You must genuinely understand the business, how it works, how it makes money, its strategy, its processes, risk appetite, its culture. It will help to think ahead and assess legal implications of the business’ strategy and plans.
You have to have a good understanding of what makes a really profitable deal and what activities drive the profit margin.
Communication is also fundamental. Translating legal jargon into plain English will make communication much faster. Equally, the board is not interested in your legal knowledge but wants to know the solution, the risks and costs of achieving their objectives, by receiving a practical advice.
When / if you look for new team members – what is most important to you and why? Ability or Character??
A bit of both. Problem solvers with a proactive approach and can-do attitude.
What would you say to any lawyer considering a move in-house?
Don’t expect to be surrounded by lawyers. Stop speaking legal.
Accept that you might have to pick up more basic tasks, that would be delegated in a law firm, to allow the business to move faster in a cost efficient way.