Taking over as the head of a legal department isn’t just difficult for the new general counsel, whose arrival can send ripples of anxiety and uncertainty through an entire company. But there are things that GCs can do to help smooth the transition.

Shawn Bradia, senior vice president and chief lawyer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. in New York, found it useful to come up with a list of questions that he felt would help him “get smart early on” as he entered a new legal department.