Legal Voices: Kim Huggins, Solicitor and Founder of KLH Legal

Learn who your fellow community members are and share in their journeys.

The Centre for Legal Leadership

Interviews: Legal Voices Series on 21/05/24

We interviewed Kim Huggins, an independent solicitor with a passion for supporting business owners and General Counsels with IP and commercial legal services. 

With over 25 years of cumulative experience in the legal realm, Kim's journey has taken her from the corridors of private practice to various in-house roles across industries like e-commerce, FMCG, and retail. In 2014, she decided to carve her own path by establishing KLH Legal, a consultancy aimed at offering her expertise far and wide.

Kim's approach to legal consulting is all about being a trusted and approachable advisor, emphasising collaboration and clear communication every step of the way. Her dedication to helping others find joy and fulfilment in their legal careers shines through in her work and her recent recognition as the Member of the Year by The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

We spoke to Kim about her journey, examining her reasons for entering the field of legal consulting, her perspectives on the in-house legal environment, the influence of AI and technology on the legal industry and the advantages of mentorship.

What drew you in to legal consulting?

In 2014 when my last contract role as an employee came to an end, I felt disillusioned with the extent of the control I had over my career. I felt like a cog in a wheel and didn’t like it.

I knew I brought something different and wanted to pursue my career on my terms. I also knew that there was a market for experienced lawyers providing their services in a more accessible way. I was also very keen to show smaller businesses and entrepreneurs that legal advice was available to them. And so KLH Legal was born – to provide me with the professional fulfilment that I was seeking and to offer a service that was needed.

During your time working in-house, what was the biggest lesson you took away?

This is a tough one, there are many!

Although your role as an in-house lawyer requires you to step back and take a holistic and objective view of what a business wants to achieve in a compliant way, you are also part of the same team. Collaboration is a key factor for building and maintaining relationships and being a trusted advisor.

If you were tasked to create an in-house legal team what are the main traits you'd look for?

For me there are some key characteristics that make a great in-house lawyer.

I would look for people who listen – this is a valuable skill in life, not just as a lawyer.

Honesty and integrity. An often over used phrase but exactly what you want – a safe pair of hands.

People who not only understand the law but are practical in its application.

And attention to detail – the small things make a big difference.

How do you think AI/tech could impact the in-house legal role?

I see the advances in tech and use of AI as a way of supporting the in-house lawyer and something to be embraced rather than feared. Of particular benefit is in the drafting and negotiation of contracts. A simple example is the time saving by no longer having to manually proof read and ensure cross-referencing is accurate.

As an IP lawyer, I see AI in use to help brand owners in many ways, including locating infringing products to developing creative assets. Working independently, I have less need for team management tools but tech offers us all ways to streamline how we do what we do so that we have more time available to focus on the advice.

We know you are a huge advocate of mentoring. How do you think it benefits both parties?

Mentoring offers benefits to everyone, no matter where you are at in your career. We can all learn from others who walk the same path as us. Mentoring gives an opportunity to hear different points of view and perspective. It can inspire and motivate. And it can help with building confidence. To be asked to be a mentor is also a huge compliment and privilege.

What makes a mentee stand out to you?

An openness and willingness to listen. A mentee doses not have to take on board everything a mentor might say, but there might be nuggets within that.

Any tips for getting the most out of having a mentor?

Ask questions and be curious and open to discussing issues. For me mentoring is conversation and exploration, rather than a Q&A. A mentor can offer a viewpoint based on their experiences and their values.

And from the other side, what advice would you give someone thinking about becoming a mentor for the first time?

That as a mentor, we are there to share our knowledge, skills and experience, with the aim of helping another to develop and grow. It’s less about achieving a specific goal or outcome. It could be a more long-term relationship as the trust develops.

Switching gears a bit, what drew you to working with IPSE, and how has it shaped your journey?

I joined as a member of IPSE during 2020 at a time when I was primarily looking to meet others who understood the challenges (and highs) of working independently. It takes time to build a network and I continue to invest time through IPSE in doing that. The guidance that IPSE offers its members, particularly on issues like IR35, has helped me develop from a worker in my business to the CEO of it.

What do you like to do in your downtime?

I am a fitness fanatic and spend much of my free time in the gym, swimming and playing tennis. I also love watching tennis and as a year-round sport, there are lots of opportunities for that, either on TV or live. I also enjoy going to the theatre.

And finally, what's the last book or movie that really grabbed your attention?

The last book I read was Magpie by Elizabeth Day – not your average psychological thriller, in a good way. I am a big fan of her podcast How to Fail.

The last film I saw at the cinema was the latest Mission Impossible film, Dead Reckoning. I had forgotten when I went in that it was Part 1 of 2, so that was a bit disappointing at the end!

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