What is it like to be a portfolio General Counsel ?

Jon Percy, consultant general counsel, corporate solicitor and co-founder of Esya Law, shares what he enjoys most about working as a portfolio GC.

Jon trained as a corporate lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright before moving to Legal Edge, which is a collection of outsourced in-house lawyers who work for various businesses. Since making the move, Jon has built a portfolio career, with multiple clients.

He founded Esya Law and co-founded Esya Studio which works with entrepreneurs, founders, investors to turn ideas into businesses.

What he enjoys most about working as a Portfolio GC?

Jon loves helping people and businesses in different industries manage the wide range of issues that come their way, both the expected and unexpected. “I think the most valuable element of it is the cross-pollination between the different businesses and roles” he says. “What you learn from one business role, which may be completely different to your role with another business, will help you anticipate and avoid pitfalls and problems that you might not otherwise have been aware of.”

What are some of the downsides?

Working as a portfolio GC is like being a “professional butterfly”. Time with your clients and colleagues is always fleeting which means it is more difficult to make the deep professional connections people make when they work with the same colleagues in one business. 

“You can't make quite as strong relationships and bonds with your coworkers as you might otherwise, because you're going to be working as part of another team the next day,” Jon says.

Despite this, Jon says that he has still forged strong relationships with employees, partners and stakeholders in the different businesses he has worked with.

What is Jon’s advice to other lawyers seeking a portfolio career?

Jon says that the minority of his peers from law school and his training contract days are still working in law. He hopes that if lawyers feel the need for a change they will realise that there are options beyond (a) working in private practice, (b) going in-house or (c) leaving the law all together. That alternative path is to work for different businesses as a portfolio lawyer, he says, although you still need to do the hard hours in private practice or in-house to get the knowledge and experience to add real value to your clients.

“Enjoy being a lawyer, enjoy the law, because it is interesting, it is fun, it is always changing. But you don't have to stick to the default options of in-house, external firm or complete career change. There are ways of amalgamating all of those in a new direction. And you can basically do whatever you want.” - Jon Percy

Watch the the full interview with Jon.

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