Corporate counsel who cannot show ‘cultural awareness and affinity’ will fall behind in the competition for senior in-house roles, a leading headhunter has warned.

Nicholas Hedley of search consultancy Hedley May told the Law Society’s third annual in-house conference that ‘it is not enough to think, as a white anglo-saxon, that one can go out into an international market and just shout loudly till you are understood’.

Hedley cited the example of one client, a bank whose employees included 66 nationalities, as an institution where a lawyer who lacked an easy facility with cultural diversity would struggle.

To acquire that facility, he noted, lawyers needed to become much better at networking. ‘Lawyers are fantastic networkers,’ Hedley said – ‘but mostly with other lawyers.’

Lawyers who could network widely within an organisation stood a better chance of acquiring ‘influence’, Hedley concluded, defining influence as ‘people asking what you think when you’re not in the room’.

See the Society’s In-House division site.