The role of a general counsel (GC) has developed substantively over the last decade due to increasingly complex regulation, technological advancements and globalisation. GCs now bring more to the table than just their legal expertise and act as strategic legal and business advisers to the chief executive and executive leadership teams. Recruiting and developing the right talent has become harder and even more critical than ever before.
GCs are now viewed as the go-to advisers for chief executives and boards of directors on laws and regulations, as well as public policy, ethics and risk. In addition, GCs now possess broad financial acumen and commercial understanding, leading them to also participate in senior leadership discussions on complex business problems and to provide innovative solutions. The GC has become a principal member of senior management teams and offers advice not just on legal matters but in helping shape discussion and debate on broader business issues.
Among in-house senior lawyers, individuals that stand out have deep financial understanding, including the ability to read balance sheets, interpret profit and loss statements and have the ability to collaborate and develop close relationships with finance departments. Senior lawyers who aspire to become GCs must expand their business knowledge, gain diverse financial acumen and develop strong leadership skills. Joining cross-functional strategic projects is an example of how legal talent can learn about other areas of a business and develop a broader organisation-wide understanding.
The quality of leadership is one of the most important predictors of the success of an in-house legal function. The combination of career experience, characteristics, competencies, values and motivations determine an individual’s ability as a successful leader. The most critical competencies required of today’s strategic legal adviser are organisational awareness, ensuring accountability, collaborating by building relationships across the business and having the courage and gravitas to challenge chief executives and boards, when appropriate.
Overall, when appointing the next GC, it is important for organisations to look beyond legal expertise and consider broader business and industry knowledge, as well as ethical values and cultural fit.
For more information on the in-house corporate legal market, please contact Corrine Lennock, senior consultant, legal and compliance EMEA
020 7337 2722
Fox Rodney Search
100 Cannon Street
020 7337 2700