5 Different Personalities That Come in Handy for GCs

By Andrew Lu on January 14, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As general counsel, you will need to wear a lot of different hats. And in taking on your different roles, you may have noticed that different moods and even different personality types can have varying degrees of effectiveness.

For example, sometimes it may make sense to be silent and remain behind the scenes advising your company. While at other times, you may want to be vocal and take the lead in discussions.

Inside Counsel recently took a look at seven types of GCs. Here's our take on the five of the more common GC personality types, and when they may be most effective:

  1. The Inside/Outside Counsel. These lawyers act much more like outside counsel and provide solely legal advice to their higher-ups without really recommending any course of action. This personality type may work well at large corporations or in situations where management wants to separate the functions of lawyers and decision-makers.

  2. Patrol Officer. This type of general counsel acts much like a cop, and will take the initiative in looking for legal compliance as well as other illicit activities. Patrol officers are likely needed at companies that have previously been sued or otherwise exposed to liability.

  3. Adviser. The adviser may remain behind the scenes, but she likely plays a critical role in most major decisions. Being an effective adviser will oftentimes depend upon your personal relationships with members of the C-suite.

  4. Specialists. These general counsel are specialists in one specific area like intellectual property or tax law. Typically, only large companies have the luxury of having specialists on staff.

  5. Negotiators. Negotiators are needed in companies which actively negotiate with employee representatives, suppliers, and even customers. The negotiator is typically quick on her feet, friendly yet able to command respect, and knows how to cut through the fat to get to the main issues.

The reality for most general counsel is that you'll need a mix of these personalities. The challenge for most counsel is knowing when to adopt the right personality for the right occasion and being flexible enough to actually pull it off.

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