GCs of the Future Part III -- The Strategist

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on January 10, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This week we've been taking a look at the ACC's report "Skills for the 21st Century General Counsel," and giving you a brief synopsis of the kinds of skills that lawyers, board members and executives value in their GC. First we looked at the GC's role as the fearless leader of the legal department, and then we looked at the GC's role as the "counselor in chief."

Today, in the last of a three-part series, we look at the GC's role as business strategist.

The Evolving Role of GC

Interestingly, directors and GC value the strategic input given by GCs very differently. While 62% of GCs value strategic input as a "top three value driver," only 27% of board members do the same. However, both directors and GCs alike forecast an increase to the value given to strategic input in the next five-to-ten years.

Business Risk Management

Though GCs are adept at managing legal risks, they must become more comfortable with assisting the business team with assessing and managing business risks. Attorneys must take the risk assessment a step further, and help the business team develop strategies in light of the risks. More and more, executive recruiters are seeking out potential GCs with strategic business experience, and they "believe this ability will differentiate top-level, highly sought general counsel."

Developing Business Strategy

The ACC notes three ways GCs can begin to develop their business strategy. First, leading the law department "improves the value proposition" (by for example, turning the legal department into a revenue center), or by "identify[ing] emerging legal trends," and planning based on those trends. Second, the GC is expected to use her knowledge of the law to further the goals of the company, for example, using her specialized knowledge of mergers and acquisitions law to further company acquisitions. Last, changing the perception of the GC from mere legal adviser, to business partner.

While the GC's role is undoubtedly important, the GC of the future is expected to take on more responsibility, and truly become an advisor and member of the business team. By following the tips outlined in this series, you'll be on your way to becoming a GC of the future.

What skills do you think future GCs will need to utilize? Let us know on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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