If you spend more than 5-10 years as a lawyer, it is very likely that you will pursue the spot of a general counsel, which offers significantly better benefits but also brings more risk and responsibility. Still, like in every job, the start is hard and you could always use some tips and tricks to make things easier. In this article, we will discover a few tips that you might use to make the transition easier to you. Of course, the more you work, the better you will understand everything. But for a start, take a look at this article to know what you need to know and what to pay attention to.
Administering your department
The administration is similar to management in some way, so the first goal is to provide a good administration in your company. This means you should do anything that improves and makes your work faster – from digitizing information to advanced technology use. Use management tools to ensure better operation and work of your department but stick to the old-fashioned methods when needed. Sometimes the technology cannot help!
From the first day of your new job, your first goal is to familiarize yourself with the budget. Find out how your company’s budget is loaded, what expenses you have and how to maintain the proper budget to keep everything in a normal way. Respect the budget constraints and adapt the strategy that works within those to avoid budget affecting. Learn how to prioritize the budget expenses so you could know when it is the time for new things or new workers.
Do not forget about litigations
The worst thing that might happen to you is to forget to answer to the complaint of the current lawsuit that is on. Not only you need to explain that to your CEO, but also to the judge, which can be a bit impossible in some cases. Also, make sure that you communicate with your It department who takes care of all emails and stored data. You might have a significant proof or “weapon” in some of the received emails that might be of great use for your trial case. Be aware of the fact that being right does not always necessarily mean a win. This is something that young GCs are not aware of as they are pushed by the “fame” of their job position.
Being at the one job position for years should not limit you to your existing knowledge, especially if you work as general counsel. The general counsel is the legal reputation or law face of a company that takes care of everything and reports to CEO and therefore, it is one of those positions that require constant knowledge update. Also, you must develop more skills and sharpen your management skills to make sure you stay on track with everything within the company. How can you achieve that?
Attend legal seminars
The seminars, like in every job, are a great resource for knowledge extension and developing your skills. These seminars gather legal experts who present the new ideas, law updates and useful tools that might help you in your work. This means that you should attend every legal seminar that is near you to collect more knowledge and experience. This not only makes you a better legal expert but also increases your salary and renders you as a competent general counsel who can discuss any legal topic that your company might have to deal with.
Look for stress management
This job will involve a lot of stress and it is a fact. When you accumulate stress, you “break” easily and this can be a huge backfire. It may happen that, due to the accumulated stress, you get irritated easily by your client, just because he is not from the legal field and does not possess enough knowledge to understand something. If you are under stress, you will start yelling. This not only makes you as an unprofessional legal expert but gets your company into the risk of losing a client. Therefore, attending stress management sessions is an effective solution that will save you from a lot of troubles.
Make your work heard
If you had managed to get more money than your CEO requested from a lawsuit, you did great work! But do not underestimate your achievements but rather make it heard! Let your co-workers know what you managed to accomplish. This renders you as a competent and sharp-eyed legal expert who will do anything to achieve the best results.
Do not neglect the family
Do not let the job affects your family time and relationships! This can happen easily as you get carried away by the huge amount of work that you need to do. If you are not a good lawyer and do not have family time, it is very likely that you will not be a good person/attorney as well!
Big corporations always deal with huge and demanding legal issues that are the subject of experienced lawyers. Still, having many lawyers for different fields of the legal department is often expensive and not management-effective. Therefore, the companies like to hire a general counsel who reports to CEO. So, in a nutshell, why do the companies hire the general counsel? What can they help that other lawyer cannot?
Imagine if a company has a lawyer who is specialized in real estate domestic law. A few months later, the company expands its work to overseas and it needs another lawyer who possesses extensive knowledge on the same subject but on the international level. This means that they need to hire another lawyer and so on. To prevent this and reduce the legal costs within the company, they would hire the general counsel who has much more experience and knowledge in this field. Plus, the GC always comes with the top-notch management skills, so it leaves space for forming the legal team further, as there is one who can manage and direct all other lawyers. After all, the general counsel works with the business team and knows the needs of a company in legal terms.
The GC is the top position in the legal department, but it is not only limited to the legal department. After some time, he can become the CEO and run the company if needed, as he knows every single thing about the company. Before he replaces the current SEO, he can also be a highly valuable counselor of the CEO and work with him to reach the best decisions. Additionally, if a company decided to replace the CEO, there is no need to look for someone outside and spend time explaining to him how things work. The logical replacement would be the head of the legal apartment, which is the general counsel.
Reduce the legal problems of a company
Any company finds itself in legal trouble, either by their own mistake or by someone else’s. In any case, the role of GC is to detect the possible legal problems and guide the company to avoid these if possible. Not only they know how the law works, but they also know the current state and progress within the company, which helps him in determining the efficient strategies to avoid possible legal problems. No one knows a company better than the CEO and a great general counsel
The general counsels are the highest-level legal workers who take a huge burden on their arms while working for a legal company. They make sure that everything works well, that a company performs within the regulation of the law and that all legal issues are solved. However, there are facts that you probably did not know about general counsel. We have decided to share some of the facts that will shed some light onto this position and maybe extend your present knowledge about this legal role.
They are executives
Until some 20 years ago, the GC was simple legal expert who usually performed administrative tasks that lawyers did not have time for. Over time things have changed and they are not executives. They are executive vice presidents who report to the CEOs who run the companies. At the same time, they are those who protect the legal reputation of a company. Also, they handle and coordinate all the law projects within the company.
Head to California if you want to work as GC
Believe it or not, California is the best place for general counsels! More than 13% of the whole GC population in the US comes from this state. Bay Area and Silicon Valley are the two most popular destinations, as there are a lot of companies’ headquarters like PayPal, Wells Fargo, eBay and many other. On top of that, CA is expanding every day and there will be an even higher demand for this position as new corporations must have an experienced attorney who will manage all the projects and ensure that every legal issue is resolved.
Women are more present than men in GC role
While some say that women are not as good as men in office jobs, the results show something else. More than 31% of the whole GC workers are women. Although there is no word about discrimination or anything similar, some reports have shown that women are much more successful in this job than men.
Men are paid more than women
While women are more present in this job, the information point out that men earn more money at this position. Women earn about $320,000 annually, while men earn up to $450,000 every year! Still, there are some rumors that speculate about increasing the pay for this job for women. However, no report or announcement would confirm this.
Management is the essential skill
Do not try get into this job if you do not have management skills! You must be sharp to organize everything so if you are not, avoid this job! It will only give you more stress!
Unlike lawyers who are responsible workers, a general counsel is an even more responsible attorney’s job position that is not easily achieved. Besides a lot of knowledge and experience that you must possess, the job of general counsel requires you to be versatile as each company is different and you never know what type of problem you might have to deal with. If you are one of those lawyers who is planning to become a general counsel in 2020, you will love this article! We will explain in short what you need to have in order to be eligible for this job position.
Decide whether you want to be a boss
Being a head-in-charge means that you have three times bigger responsibility in comparison to other workers. You must know that this position involves a lot of responsibility and courage, as you will run the team of lawyers and organize the work. On top of that, you will be the first guy who reports to CEO of a company, so have in mind that there might be a time when the pressure will rise. Of course, the pay will be accordingly, but decide whether you want to deal with stressful situations which will be in abundance in the future. Pay the cost to be the boss as they say!
Participate in complex projects
You need to participate in complex projects where you could develop your management skills, which are essential for this position. The high-profile projects involve a lot of risk but also excitement as you will deal with serious issues, multiple corporations, bottlenecked deadlines and whatnot. This not only boosts your management skills but also gives you a lot of valuable experience and knowledge that you cannot collect in small-time projects. Participating in the big projects gets you a chance to practice your management skills but also to sharpen your legal skills and knowledge.
Have a lot of experience
Before you can think of this position, you need to have a lot of experience. General counsel is a lawyer who has extensive experience, versatile knowledge and outstanding management skills. You may have to deal with international law, and if you have not had any experience in this field, it is very likely that you will not get this job. All the successful general counsels have worked as attorneys for a legal companies and after they had gained experience and knowledge, they managed to get to this position.
This not only means you need to have an innovational idea, but also that you can have a clear and strategical insight into the possible impacts caused by your actions. What could happen to your company if you allow something? This reflects your abilities to think forward and be ready for the problems in advance. You never know when legal trouble may arise, but you must know how to solve it and prevent further problems.
General counsel is a serious job position that costs a lot of money many companies but also managed to solve some of the tasks that the companies could not accomplish without the help from GC. This job position is one of the most paid among all positions at the moment, so it means that the expert you hire must be a professional who has expertise in many legal fields. And of course, to justify its salary. But how do you know that you need a one? How to hire a general counsel lawyer in your company?
Decide whether you really need it
First of all, make a clear statement about the need for the GC. First of all, you need to know why do you need such a man in your company, as this hiring will cost you a lot. What are the plans of your company? Whether you are going to deal with the serious legal issues, then you know that the GC will be a good investment. If you are not sure about the complex legal subjects, then you might not need this guy. If you do not plan to have international securities or professional management needs, then you might want to skip this position as there is no point in hiring an expert who will perform basic administrative tasks. You can do this with a basic lawyer who is skilled in the desired field of law.
Present the current and future stage of business
Another thing you need to do is to present your current progression and the future progression of your company, as you will understand your needs. Going to the international field means that you must have a specialized lawyer who will work only with the internationally-related issues. Should you plan to expand you company, especially on the other continents, it is very likely you will need someone skilled to be in charge for everything. There is a lot more job than just entering the data and answering the phones to explain to your clients the basic procedures.
Do you need an administrator or a strategic partner?
Are you in need of someone who will develop a business strategy with your or someone to do your administration work? If you need more lawyers to expand your company and develop effective strategies, you will need to hire general counsel sooner or later. Someone has to manage the entire team of lawyers and who else could do it better than the experienced attorney? On the other hand, if you need someone to complete the administrative work, you do not really need a professional lawyer.
Hire the GC!
Once you decide that you do need a chief legal officer, then start looking for a one. Have in mind that you do not a lawyer who is specialized in a single law field but rather someone who will deal with all legal issues and deliver high-quality results. This is a one-time investment, so make it worth it!