Mixing the conservative legal world with the risk-taking brashness of successful business is a challenging recipe for in-house counsel to follow. Tom Yu offers frank and valuable insights on how to balance the brew
There is no doubt that a legal counsel should possess strong technical competency. However, technically strong legal practitioners can sometimes find it difficult to survive in the corporate world. Why? In my view, we can attribute some of the problems to communication issues, to which a lot of legal practitioners may not pay enough attention. I’m not an expert on communication, so I’m not sharing any so-called communication “skills”. But I can share some of my personal experiences that I have learned in my daily work.
Show respect to your internal clients. We have to acknowledge that we are just experts in the legal field, and your colleagues have to rely on your knowledge to make business decisions. If your peers look like they lack common sense in the legal field, you have to admit that this is only yourfield of common sense, not theirs. Sometimes you may look stupid as well, in those areas where your colleagues have a lot of expertise. A legal person is not superior in intelligence to other colleagues. However, you should not tolerate your own ignorance in basic business knowledge, because you are supposed to support the development of the business in the right way, not vice-versa.
Tom Yu is legal & corporate affairs director for Anheuser-Busch InBev China