MassMutual Executive Vice President and GC Mark Roellig
Much in the same way doctors are not formally instructed on bedside manner in medical school, attorneys on the path toward becoming general counsel or rising to another type of senior-level executive position within their company are not taught leadership skills in law school.
This absence of professional development in the legal landscape is more commonplace within the Baby Boomer generation of attorneys rather than Generation X or Y, but this nurturing quandary is not unique to any one industry. Increasingly, law school career services staff are taking responsibility for providing professional development training to prepare students for the practice of law in today’s legal environment, according to the Association for Legal Career Professionals (ALCP). But many of those services are centered on job placement and initial advancement, so what happens when you’re ready for the big leagues?
The initial foundation for Nationwide’s legal department—which comprises about 400 legal professionals—was through a “listening tour” of sorts in which Hatler spent two months talking through a team charter with the heads of the legal department and discussing how the team would interact on a daily basis to arrive at a refreshed group mission.
“Nationwide as an organization is highly collaborative. The genesis of my focus was ‘I have to have a team that works well together,’” says Hatler. “I couldn’t just have senior people that led their own teams and not have a cohesive view of where we were going.”