How to boost your career as a legal counsel in a fast-growing company

Are you a legal counsel in a fast-growing tech company? This is how to secure your role, boost your career, and elevate your team's impact on the companies' growth. Become the AI champion in your organisation and get recognised for it – not just within the legal team.

How to boost your career as a legal counsel in a fast-growing company
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Budget cuts and redundancies are part of the reality of many tech companies. They are trying to decrease their burn-rate and increase efficiency of their existing work force. The rise and advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in combination with economically challenging times has put an end uncapped hiring in fast-growing tech companies. Larger lay-offs are most often driven by financial factors rather than personal performance of the individual employees who are being let go.

Consequently, many mid-level legal counsels may find themselves concerned about their career trajectory. But right here also lies a unique opportunity for career enhancement and professional growth. Even if you are not concerned about your role being made redundant, the following might just be your lever to boost your career as a legal counsel.

Artificial Intelligence is changing organisations

The transformative power of AI is reshaping how expert teams are working and it’s also starting to creep into the way legal teams are working. Companies are harnessing the potential of AI to boost productivity, particularly in revenue-generating departments. This trend towards AI adoption presents a unique opportunity for legal counsels to become integrally involved in their organisation's AI strategy and secure their position within the team.

The pressure for legal to leverage AI to improve the way they are delivering legal services internally is increasing and this is exactly where legal counsel can stand out – not just within their own teams but across the entire organisation.

Stepping into the role of an internal AI champion within your legal team can be a game-changer for your personal career. By showing initiative to get AI up and running within your team, you could help increase your team’s productivity and efficiency. Further, being the point of contact for “all things AI” can increase your visibility and importance within your team and the broader organisation.

Becoming an AI Champion doesn’t mean learning how to code or becoming a prompting expert but rather it means that you are the person who understands the applications of AI for the tasks and challenges that are relevant for your organisation. It means you have an overview of the market and are able to communicate that despite the existing hesitation in legal professionals, there are real use cases.

Earn recognition for your efforts

Your efforts in adopting AI can extend beyond just the legal team. The entire organisation stands to gain from the efficiencies and insights that AI can provide.

For instance, AI can help in increasing deal speed, enhancing compliance across the organisation and improve the user experience for getting legal requests done. So, you shouldn’t stop at making the legal team work more efficiently but rather focus on how you can empower business teams from within the legal team. This way, you can actually drive the adoption of AI across the organisation and you can position yourself as a strategic partner in the company's growth and success.

As you lead the charge in AI adoption within your organisation, you will inevitably raise your profile. Your contributions will be recognised by senior management and your peers alike, and this could open up even more opportunities for career advancement. Furthermore, your expertise in this area will be sought after, both within and outside your organisation, making you a thought leader in your field – and becoming an indispensable asset to your organisation.

Berkant Hilal, LL.M. was recently promoted to Senior Legal Counsel at DeepL and has been deeply involved in leading DeepL’s adoption of Legal OS.

I believe that being the main point of contact in the organization for Legal OS has definitely raised my profile within the company. This is often difficult to achieve in larger organizations. However, it has also brought with it additional responsibilities and tasks, as I am now seen as a go-to resource for questions and support related to Legal OS. Overall, I see it as a positive development that has expanded my role and visibility within both the legal team and the entire organization.

What you can do right now

Talk to vendors and scan the market

Engaging with vendors is a critical part of the AI adoption process. Vendors can provide invaluable insights into the capabilities of different AI tools and can help you determine which ones are best suited to your needs. They can also provide training and support to help you get the most out of the tools you choose.

You don’t need to have buying power to speak with them and good vendors will help you make a good case to the decision-makers once you’ve gotten a grip of the market and the challenges you want to tackle within your team.

Choose a small but impactful use case

Especially earlier in your career, you will have tedious tasks that you do not enjoy and that take up a lot of your time. That time might usually be spent better by doing more impactful work and learning rather than repetitively responding to small requests or doing low-value reviews. This is where you should start: high-volume, low-value work that does not even offer a big opportunity for learning to you.

A quick research will turn up vendors that are working to solve these use cases and early conversations with vendors will most likely also reveal which vendor is willing to work closely and collaboratively with you to help you solve that use case and make you shine. Choosing a vendor that provides robust support is essential. AI implementation can be a complex process, and having a supportive vendor can make all the difference. They can assist with everything from initial setup to ongoing maintenance, and can provide guidance and troubleshooting when needed.

Having had early conversations like this will show initiative. If you’re the one taking responsibility to keep the momentum going, there’s no reason to take this work away from you and you will be in the best position to drive this internal innovation forward.

Building Close Connections with Business Teams

Driving the adoption of AI within your team forward does not mean you need to work on this by yourself. Involving legal ops and your relevant business stakeholders will be essential in making this endeavour a success.

Understanding the needs of various business functions is crucial for selecting and implementing the most effective AI tools. Building connections with business teams can provide valuable insights into their needs and challenges. This understanding can guide your AI implementation strategy, ensuring that the tools you select not only empower your legal team but also address the needs of other business functions. In the end, legal teams don’t exist for the sake of it but to support the organisation’s business goals. This approach can lead to greater recognition for you and your legal team across the organisation.

The same goes for collaborating with legal ops, IT, and product teams within your organisation. This can be instrumental in your journey towards AI adoption. These teams possess a wealth of experience in software implementation and can provide valuable insights into how to best integrate AI tools into your organisation. Their technical expertise can help you navigate any potential roadblocks that might occur during the implementation process. Additionally, this collaboration can help break down silos within your organisation, fostering a more integrated and efficient work environment.

Expanding AI adoption across business teams

Standing out as the champion for AI in your organisation, especially if you have made an effort to collaborate with your internal business stakeholders will inevitably raise your profile and you will have tonnes of conversations at the water cooler about this work.

Embrace these conversations and help other teams follow your journey. Their success will be your success and you will become indispensable for your organisation.

Conclusion

To encapsulate, for legal counsels in fast-paced tech companies, the emergence of AI offers a silver lining amidst the challenges of budget cuts and layoffs. By embracing the transformative power of AI and becoming an internal AI champion, legal counsels can not only safeguard their positions but also significantly boost their career trajectory. Through strategic engagement with AI vendors, selection of high-impact use cases, and fostering close connections with business teams, legal counsels can drive AI adoption within their teams, thereby enhancing productivity and efficiency.

In essence, this proactive approach not only earns recognition within the organisation but also positions legal counsels as strategic partners contributing to the company's growth and success. Collaborating with internal teams such as legal ops, IT, and product teams can further streamline the AI implementation process, breaking down organisational silos and fostering a more cohesive and efficient work environment. By demonstrating a forward-thinking approach and a willingness to learn and adapt, you can position yourself as a vital asset in a fast-growing company. Remember, the future belongs to those who are prepared for it. So, embrace AI and let it propel your career to new heights.