With More Compliance Regs, GCs More Important Than Ever

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on November 25, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We may be preaching to the choir here, but it appears that general counsel are increasingly valuable to their employers, especially in the area of compliance, even while the rest of the legal market struggles.

The idea that people will always need lawyers still holds true, but in the current economy a lot of the "people" who still need lawyers are companies. As state and federal governments increase regulations and crack down on consumer issues, companies desperately need legal advice.

But as in-house counsel, you can offer your client more than just your legal expertise. If you haven't already, it's time to take a more active role in the business side of things.

General counsel across the board have done well over the last few years, but those who also hold a management spot do significantly better, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In terms of salary, that means more than twice as much is being paid out to GCs who report to chief executives versus people further down the pipeline. Even if you aren't in a GC position, now is the time to start working on your business skills.

For attorneys who aspire to counsel corporate clients or just want to move in house, the best area seems to be compliance.

New regulations over the last few years have increased the scrutiny on businesses, especially those large enough to need at least one in-house attorney. Compliance with Obamacare, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for companies doing business overseas, and heightened securities regulation means businesses have more to worry about.

It doesn't look like the trend toward greater regulation for business practices is going anywhere. Attorneys who specialize in business compliance will likely be in hot demand.

Of course, that also comes with a downside as government entities appear to be targeting in-house counsel in compliance cases. Whether that becomes a common issue remains to be seen.

Despite that, the market still looks good for corporate counsel and could remain so for the next few years. Amid all the turmoil is the legal field, it appears in house is still the place to be.

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