Dear ACC Northeast Chapter Members and Friends,
I have recently seen several headlines claiming the role of in-house counsel has evolved. Experts claim we now have a seat at the business table. We are considered strategic partners to the business. The corresponding articles then set out and list all the skills needed to succeed in this new world order for in-house counsel--skills apparently not taught in law school. The coveted in-house role, according to these experts, now requires not only technical legal knowledge but also the ability to manage resources, create a deck, communicate legal analysis only in bullets, manage a budget, learn the business and so on. The so-called soft skills, such as listening, empathy, time management, and teamwork, for example, are also highly valued now more than ever.
Some law schools have evolved and are teaching these new types of skills. (Not sure how they teach empathy, but that’s for another day.) Certainly, the legal interns lately are getting more impressive. But for those of us who have not seen the inside of a courtroom, never mind a law class, in a while how are we to develop these skills that are so in-demand right now? And how does the law school graduate without such training qualify for and succeed in such a role?
For answers to these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Well, not me, but the ACC. This community is the one community that can demonstrate how one can win at fulfilling the in-house role. It is, after all, the only organization designed by in-house counsel, for in-house counsel®. With more than 45,000 in-house legal professionals in 85 countries, ACC is well-positioned with access to experts, thought leaders, and a myriad of other resources. In fact, the membership includes over 10,000 organizations, including an astonishing representation from 99% of Fortune 100 companies. There are 8,500 CLOs who are members. That’s a lot of legal leaders.
The numbers are impressive, but let’s look behind the numbers at the personal side. The side that tells the real story. There are educational programs, roundtable discussions, and workshops organized by substantive networks and chapters around the world designed to bring the critical subjects to your desktop or to a meeting venue near you. There are written resources to educate and persuade. Networking opportunities abound, too, including leadership roles providing extracurricular on-the-job experiences to complement your day job. All curated to address the timely issues facing companies today.
Even our Northeast Chapter community (one of the largest chapters at the ACC) is thriving with the latest membership number including over 1,400 members, representing over 6% growth since I took over as president two years ago. Our Chapter has not seen this level of membership in several years nor has it seen the level of sponsor engagement we have seen this past year. The ACC community is an engaged and robust one offering not only access to experts globally but strong local networks for in-house counsel to engage in and grow.
I know all about this community because I’ve been deeply involved with the ACC for well over a decade. I attribute much of my career progression to skills I have honed and knowledge I have gained through this involvement, like leading this chapter as its president for two years. I would encourage you too to take advantage of everything the ACC has to offer to grow your skills. This community addresses the evolving nature of the job of in-house counsel every day. You will up your game, so to speak, as a result, and what you learned in law school will grow to the next level.
I am on the ACC soap box today because I am coming to the bittersweet moment where my term as president of the ACC Northeast Chapter is coming to an end. I will soon turn over the leadership reins. Like all leaders I hope I have made some impact over these last two years such that I have left the organization better than when I found it. The time never seems long enough, but then at the same time, it seems too long. I do believe a leader should be judged by the impact they have directly on the people in that organization. It’s not about attendance rates or lovely lawn parties, really. It’s about helping our members, no matter the role, background, law school, or skillset, realize their dreams. Dreams of landing that next coveted in-house role or even just the recognition that your skills are valuable to the business. The ACC community has helped me fulfill my career dreams, and I hope the efforts of our Chapter over these past two years have had an impact on your career, too. I encourage you to grow your involvement in the ACC Northeast Chapter. We will be better with your involvement, and you will also benefit.
Thank you to my colleagues on the Board for trusting my leadership and to all of you for the opportunity to lead this great organization. I want to especially thank our executive director, Julie Duffy, for her efforts managing, well, literally everything. Our job running the chapter would be nearly impossible without her. I hope to see you at a Chapter event soon.
President, ACC Northeast Chapter, 2021-2023