Essential Skills for Success: Advice for New and Seasoned Legal Professionals

LAWThe In House Circle ArticleThe In House Circle Article
June 27, 2024
Essential Skills for Success: Advice for New and Seasoned Legal Professionals

In Conversation with Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, President (Legal) & General Counsel at Hinduja Group

Previously viewed as a department solely focused on expenses, legal teams have undergone a significant shift. What are the key factors that have propelled legal teams from a cost center to a strategic partner within organizations?

I will not claim that Legal Teams (LTs) everywhere are regarded as strategic partners within organizations. It depends on each organization’s view and the attitude of the LTs. Regulatory mechanisms are very tight globally, and risk assessments and compliance have become critical. This is due to increased connectivity, digitalization, and interdependence, which were not prevalent a decade ago. For these reasons, the criticality of LTs has increased considerably. It is now up to LTs to take advantage of the situation and adapt to the new opportunities presented to them. Many organizations, especially General Counsels (GCs), are embracing the new realities and emerging as strategic advisers.

Can you share the impact mentorship had on your professional journey? In your current role, what opportunities do you have to mentor young talent? 

LTs have greater opportunities today than a decade ago. To become successful, it is important to develop a new generation of legal professionals. Educational qualifications, though important, are not the only parameter for professional success. It is the responsibility of senior professionals to mentor young talent. I have been mentoring young talent worldwide. The happiest part of my professional journey is seeing my mentees become successful in the legal profession.

With the recent surge in data privacy regulations (e.g., Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023), many companies are struggling to comply. Do you think in-house legal teams in the technology industry might benefit from adding specialists in data privacy to effectively address these challenges? 

Data privacy has become very critical today with data protection laws in force globally. With GDPR in place, American and European companies are concerned about expanding their operations in countries weak in enforcing privacy regulations. Unfortunately, data privacy regulations are not uniform worldwide. This needs to be synchronized.

How do you think technology is helping you excel and drive more efficiency in your team? Beyond existing tools, are there any specific legal tasks you find most time-consuming or frustrating that you think future technology could solve to make in-house legal teams more efficient?

Today we are in the primary stage of Artificial Intelligence (AI). No doubt it is scary because its applications, known and unknown, are dynamic and life-changing. It can make or break a situation. If AI can be used to benefit the organization, it will bring efficiency and economic benefit. However, its use must be judicious and not solely from a cost perspective. Already, AI’s application in the legal profession has commenced, and it will expand considerably in the near future. Proper regulations need to be established to manage AI applications

What do you think are the three most important skill sets that both recent law graduates and seasoned professionals need to develop to excel in these dynamic in-house legal environments? 

In today’s global economic environment, knowledge is power. However, it is not enough to be knowledgeable without understanding its application for the organization’s benefit. Many times, legal professionals need to wear two hats – to acquire knowledge and apply it judiciously. Today’s LTs are not only seen as providing legal advice but also implementing it in the organization’s interest. The success of a legal professional depends on how practical he or she is and how the business benefits from legal knowledge. Only then can LTs become strategic partners in business


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