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Are legal managers in a good position to move up to senior business roles?

Are legal managers in a good position to move up to senior business roles?

A legal manager within any sector will be looking to progress their career further in the near future. An increasing number of managers are looking for the opportunity to progress to CFO and CEO positions, and the like, but what does it take for a legal manager to be able to make that step into a c-suite job role?

Transferrable skills

Transferrable skills are important for any new position, moving across to different job roles whilst utilising the skills you already have, is an important factor in them offering you the position. Using our Top skills for 2018 we have pulled out the skills you can be looking out for in a legal manager that should put them at the forefront when considering them for any senior business roles.


One of the most important transferrable skills a legal manager will need is great communication. Being able to communicate efficiently, internally and externally, will be key to ensuring that they are informed of activities across the business, rather than just in their previous sector or team. Moving from a managerial position to a senior one will mean communicating with more people across the business, as well as being aware of any and all clients.

Horizon scanning

A legal manager should be used to horizon scanning –  the gathering and analysing data to direct their decision making would be a regular part of their current role. Moving from a manager to a senior business role would require looking to the future and making sure any decisions made are reflective of the companies’ previous data as well as making beneficial choices for the company at large.

Business development

Business development from a legal point of view will be a part of a legal manager’s day-to-day mind-set. A legal manager will have experience in focusing on business progression, and can transfer this skill to a new senior role and business. Looking at the wider goals of the business and liaising with the company managers to determine how to reach these goals is key to being an effective CEO.

A leadership mentality

Although managers will be adept at leading a team, the leadership mentality of a senior employee is rather different. Learning how to lead in a way that will be heeded by the whole business can be daunting to some managers, especially if the most people they have managed are two to three people at a junior level. However, the communication that a manager has been exposed to, as well as the experience in learning about a business at a larger scale, can be transferred to a higher level as they progress in their career. The practice of delegation within their teams will come in handy if they are looking to move to managing a team of experienced individuals within an organisation.

How to recognise a potential candidate

Looking for someone to fill the role of a CEO, CFO or other senior business role will be difficult. But, looking for certain skills within individuals is important to ensure they are the best person for the job. If you are considering a legal manager as the future senior business employee then ensuring they have these traits could help you make the right decision for your business.
Individuals that are looking to progress in their career are often the ones who can be expected to have made connections within the business. Relationship building is an important skill for a senior employee and can be transferred to other businesses. Or, if you are hiring internally it can only benefit the company if they have relationships across different areas and levels.
Some individuals are more concerned with personal development than others, so look for legal managers that have been proactive with their own training and personal development plans. If a candidate has the desire to upskill themselves and their team then you can only assume they will want the best for your business as one of its senior employees.  
If you are looking to hire internally why not read our article, ‘How to promote from within’ or look at our management advice section.