The Role of a General Counsel as a Specialist

Today’s legal community is rampant with specialists. Specialization, however, has left many businesses without a true General Counsel. That is, without a generalist able to serve as a trusted advisor with business savvy, strategy and experience, provide knowledgeable interpretations of regulations and statutes, and act as a risk assessment expert.

An effective General Counsel realizes that company executives and entrepreneurs need to spend more time steering their companies in the proper direction and know that to do so they need informed but not overly detailed or cumbersome legal strategies, real-time decisions instead of theory, big picture solutions delivered on time and on budget, and advice that is innovative, aggressive and practical.

Ironically, in my practice as outside general counsel to my clients, I have come to realize that a true General Counsel is a specialist who specializes in:

  • Being a listener, a mentor and learning the nuts and bolts of a business. This enables the General Counsel to be in a position to know what truly matters to the business and give unvarnished advice at critical junctures, while also keeping an eye on the full spectrum of a company’s legal issues.
  • Being a counselor and helping clients navigate through very difficult waters by being proactive rather that reactive, and striving to avoid disputes before they arise, resulting in significant cost savings in legal fees for the client.
  • Being totally involved and coordinating with the client’s team of advisors, facilitating communication and collaboration among all of these professionals, in order to ensure a unified approach to issues and avoid the “procrastination problem” that many businesses face in finding (or making) the time to talk with their advisors.

Armed with a thorough understanding of the company, as well as legal experience, strong analytical skills and judgment, a true General Counsel can guide a company through the best and worst of times.

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