Oftentimes, lawyers in GC or other leadership roles reach a point in their career where they’re ready for a change. They’ve reached the pinnacle of their profession and are now ready to step away from the responsibilities and demands of managing and leading strategy for the company, department, or firm. They want to simplify their professional duties and use their expertise to focus on what they originally signed up for: the art of practicing law.
As a result, we’re seeing many lawyers pivot from esteemed, lucrative leadership roles to legal consulting roles. Although this move is becoming more commonplace, hiring organizations may still question why a candidate would actively pursue opportunities they’re overqualified for or take a role with a lesser title. Candidates, for their part, wonder how to position themselves in order to successfully take that “step back” and achieve their ideal scenario.
Why would lawyers switch to a consulting role?
Understanding candidates’ motivations can help employers approach the hiring process with an open mind and without preconceived notions. Based on talking directly with many candidates, here are some reasons they’re opting to move away from legal leadership.
How candidates can position themselves for success
What if you’re a GC or CFO looking to switch gears? How can you market yourself in a way that emphasizes the enthusiasm and value you bring, while de-emphasizing your lofty previous titles? Below are some tips to help you put your best foot forward.
Benefits of hiring an experienced former leader
When you’re hiring for a role, even a consulting one, your goal is always to hire the best, most qualified person for the job. Keep in mind that the best candidates are sometimes more experienced and looking to take on less responsibility. These “unicorn” candidates can often hit the ground running and make a dramatic impact on improving your organization and its systems. This is largely because they understand your point of few, having been in your shoes.
Former leaders also add to your company’s diversity. A premier group of attorneys includes all types of backgrounds. Diversity isn’t just about race and gender; it also means having lawyers of different ages and generations who bring unique experiences, knowledge, and insights.
What about expectations for compensation? When someone is working as a consultant, they often do so because they can pick and choose the exact role they’re interested in. The vast majority of lawyers who want to take a step back are not looking for same money they had in their leadership roles. They know what consultant roles pay—because they’ve likely hired for these positions before. In other words, they’re not it for the big paycheck, and they have more reasonable expectations in terms of compensation.
The bottom line
Increasingly, experienced legal leaders are embracing consulting as a path to meaningful, enjoyable work without the daily rigors of leadership. Organizations that recognize the “whys” of this trend will open themselves up to a distinctive type of consulting candidate that can help them gain a competitive advantage and achieve better business outcomes.