Canadian Lawyer

May 2024

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 25 of 51

24 FEATURE INHOUSE PROFILES Best of InHouse interviews Our sister publication, Lexpert, profiles in-house counsel regularly online at Below is a selection of profiles featured by Lexpert in 2024 FERNANDO GARCIA Company: Opta Group Title: Chief people and legal officer The 'plus-shaped lawyer' and how soft skills are vital for in-house success In the ever-evolving world of business law, one often overlooked skill stands out as a predictor of success – a deep understanding of human dynamics. Fernando Garcia, chief people and legal officer at Opta, says that growing up in a diverse environment ultimately led to him honing that attribute. "I developed an appreciation and an ability to work within diverse groups," he says. "That's shaped my own approach to life and how I get along with the people around me – especially when they're from different backgrounds and have different experiences with education." Garcia speaks about the concept of the "plus-shaped lawyer," emphasizing the significance of soft skills such as empathy and relationship-building alongside legal expertise. "It's all about building relationships, being empathetic," he says. "That's just as important as being a well-rounded, successful in-house lawyer. That includes data management, the ability to use information, and financial information technology. However, I found that there was something missing – and when I look at the people that I think are the most successful, it's all about personality. It's all about building relationships, about being empathetic. It's about being able to work with diverse cultures and teams." This holistic approach helps Garcia define himself as a lawyer – going above and beyond what's expected of a legal professional and mixing in a sense of empathy, emotional intelligence, and people skills. And, in an era where everything is increasingly reliant on technology, keeping that human touch is essential. "Legal technology is critical ... it helps you do more with less," he says. "You're either A, working 24 hours a day, or B, using the tools that are necessary to help you do that. Legal technologies are offering a lot of those opportunities and a lot of those initiatives."

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