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Stacey Taylor worked in private practice for over a decade before transitioning into banking and later in-house counsel. Like many, she has faced challenging circumstances due to COVID-19, including her role being suspended. Taylor shares her experience.

Stacey Taylor challenges the notion that it is difficult for lawyers in private practice to make the jump to in-house. In fact, she attributes much of her success in-house to having had a diverse career.

“I didn’t care what everyone else thought. I wanted to try something different with my career and challenge myself,” she says.

“After years in private practice and banking, I was eager to help people create something on the front end rather than always cleaning up the mess on the back end.”

Taylor encourages lawyers who are thinking of making a similar transition to align themselves with mentors who have worked in business and have good commercial acumen.

“It’s one thing to know the law, but it’s much harder to apply that in a commercial setting and be able to articulate that to a business,” she says.

To succeed, Taylor says it’s not about proving how smart you are, or that you know everything. Rather, it’s about listening to the business’ needs, analysing their risks, and offering practical and strategic solutions to problems.

Taylor spent nearly five years as Director and Counsel of American Express before taking up a role as General Counsel for a global brand outside of the banking and finance industry.

“I was so ready and passionate about the role, but over time I started to feel there was a complete misalignment and that it was not the right home for me,” she says.

“It was a bitter pill to swallow.

“As luck would have it, the choice was made for me as I was made redundant just before Christmas.”

Taylor’s run of bad luck continued, however. Just two weeks after accepting a new position as General Counsel at a start-up company, Taylor’s role was suspended due to COVID-19.

She ultimately chose not to continue with the company, instead taking the time to regroup and pursue a role aligned with her values.

Stacey Taylor Stacey Taylor

I’m a firm believer that things happen for you, not to you.

Taylor acknowledges that while the last six months have been incredibly stressful, it’s also been a blessing in disguise; and she advises lawyers who are faced with similar challenges to simply surrender to it.

“It’s given me the space and time to think – what is it that I find fulfilling in my career?” she asks.

“Flipping the script and saying this is happening for me and not to me helped redirect my thinking to something more positive.

“Try to get to a place of acceptance and shift your perspective. The universe is giving you this short period of time. When else in your life are you able to just be at home, whatever that looks like for everybody.”

Passionate about leadership, Taylor notes that COVID-19 has also changed the landscape for what is required from leaders.

“It’s no longer just about what you know, it’s about being authentic and truly embodying your values,” she says.

“If you work for a company that is aligned with the values you live by, it makes you magnetic.”