A Global GC Speaks on Trends in Legal Industry

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Tomorrow's In-House Counsel: Practice Competencies in a Global Legal Market,” an installment in Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession’s speaker series, features Albert "Al" P. Parker, II — executive vice president, global general counsel and corporate secretary who provides executive leadership for the legal affairs and government affairs functions for Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. Parker, a PennLaw graduates, talks about anticipated changes in the legal industry, the legal market, and legal education, in addition to talking about his own career path. Among other topics, he touches on:

  • The current fundamental problem of law schools graduating more lawyers than there are lawyer positions available for them
  • Giving up a law firm partnership to go in-house, and other non-traditional paths
  • Surviving corporate take-overs
  • Having a mentor
  • The changing market for legal services and the introduction of alternative legal services models
  • The role of in-house counsel compared to outside counsel, including maintaining a sense of objectivity while embedded with business colleagues
  • What he looks for in hiring in-house counsel and outside counsel
  • How his legal department is structured to handle legal questions around the world
  • Legal department management, including budget management

As a career coach for lawyers, I was particularly interested in his descriptions of the role of in-house counsel, what he looks for in hiring in-house counsel, and the difficulties some lawyers have in understanding how the in-house counsel role fundamentally differs from the role of outside counsel. This is a discussion I regularly have with law firm lawyers looking to transition in-house: you must understand the business and how you, as an attorney, fit into that business.

For legal career growth in our age of globalization, he advises getting staffed on an ex-pat legal assignment, and growing an appreciation for other cultures and people.

In-house counsel must also focus on managing and reducing legal costs.