Lessons learned while working in the corporate strategy team

Alex Love, Associate Legal Counsel at AlphaSights, shares what he learned during his secondments; firstly to Kambi, a B2B sports betting platform and technology service provider, during his training contract and secondly within Kambi to the corporate strategy team, on rejoining Kambi as a newly qualified solicitor. 

A little background on Alex

  • He trained as a solicitor at Eversheds Sutherland between 2018 and 2020.
  • During his training contract, Alex was seconded to Kambi.
  • He joined Kambi’s in-house legal team once he qualified in September 2020.
  • While at Kambi he was internally seconded to the corporate strategy team.

Lessons about the business from initial secondment to Kambi

 Alex lists the benefits of his secondment:

  1. He learned about a new sector, and industry and was able to “get under the skin of the business”.
  2. He learned what clients want and need from their lawyers.

The secondment to Kambi “was a really good opportunity to see what clients really want from their lawyers when they’re dealing with private practice.”

Alex noticed a few differences between how the law firm and the in-house teams work

  1. A contrast between the “hierarchical structure” with “strict reporting lines” at the law firm and the in-house team’s focus on working together as a team to be “facilitators” to the business.
  2. Differing aims – the aim of the in-house legal team was to give legally sound advice to the business, and while it made the business aware of the risks, it was not “risk-averse”, which is how the advice from the law firm could come across. 

“It’s really fascinating, particularly at that early point in your career when you are learning so much about the law and learning how to be a solicitor, actually seeing how it’s done on the other side of things when you’re delivering the advice was really helpful” he explains.

Gaining experience in a new sector

Sports betting was an entirely new sector and industry to Alex. He joined at a “fascinating time” when the “US had recently repealed a piece of legislation that prevented sports betting in the US. So, there was a huge expansion in terms of US-facing work” he says.

The secondment and his career journey

The move made a “huge impact” on Alex. Because of the secondment, Alex realised that he wanted to work as part of an in-house legal team and joined Kambi soon after qualifying.

For Alex one of the “biggest things” he took from the secondment was to see the direct impact his work had on the business. As a trainee at a law firm, that was not always the case “you do a discreet piece of work for a client, and you may never see where that piece of work ends up or what the impact on the business or the client is two, three years down the line, “he says.

On secondment, Alex experienced first-hand how a successful client negotiation could have a positive impact on the business and its share price. He could see how what he was doing was important and that his contribution was valuable.

Secondment into corporate development within the strategy team at Kambi

Once at Kambi, Alex spent six months in the strategy team working on corporate strategy, including mergers and acquisitions. He had an opportunity to work through the entire M&A process.

This experience included:

  • sourcing targets,
  • working on letters of intent,
  • drafting papers to the board on why an opportunity was the right strategic choice for the business,
  • due diligence,
  • the acquisition process,
  • working on share purchase agreements (SPAs),
  • and finally, integration.

Alex enjoyed working across the whole M&A experience. He managed to work across the “broad remit” as he was working closely with a “very experienced” colleague and “learned a lot” from them.

Key takeaways from the secondment to the strategy team

Alex Love on what he learnt during his secondment to the corporate strategy team.

Gaining a broad view of the company’s strategy in the context of the wider industry 

Alex learned that to serve the business well it is vital to understand the sector, industry, and broader competitive landscape within which it is situated.

By understanding the competitive ecosystem within which the business operates it’s easier to understand the company’s strategy and how it intends to navigate the “competitive pressures” of the industry.

“I think that’s really helpful for a lawyer to know because you can put your work into a bit of context. I can suddenly see how this client deal is super important for us because it fits in with the strategy and it addresses the competitive pressures that we’re seeing in the sector” he says.

Walking a mile in the client’s shoes, learning important soft skills

For Alex working as part of the strategy, the team taught him to look at things from a different perspective. He said he started looking beyond “pure legal risks” and started considering “commercial risks”.

“You suddenly start to appreciate the different drivers and the motivations behind why people are looking at certain things, and I think that’s a really important lesson because if you can appreciate those and you can empathise with where your stakeholder’s coming from, you can help them achieve their goal” he explains.

Having empathy with the stakeholder’s perspective goes a long way in keeping them on your side and building a cohesive relationship between the legal team and the rest of the business.

He is part of Crafty Starters – a group for in-house legal professionals with less than four years PQE to form connections and share experiences with a like-minded peer group. This group meets regularly for online and in-person events. Learn more about how to join Crafty Counsel’s community.