Today the role of general counsel has expanded the duties of senior legal eagles within law firms. Not only do top legal professionals act as right hand to the company CEO, but now they are also considered an integral part of their firm’s senior executive team.
Yet despite this acknowledgement of the importance of general counsel roles at board level, such positions are still few and far between.
1. Such jobs are rare.
2. They are not often advertised in the legal recruitment sphere.
3. Because general counsel is a high-level position, the hiring process is often very highly networked and kept discreet and hush-hush.
4. Such positions are most often filled through executive search firms and word of mouth. Social media is growing in influence when it comes to finding and filling these roles.
Planning and strategy are key to gaining a general counsel role in today’s highly-competitive and saturated market.
Senior counsel should actively network both offline and via social media. Establish a LinkedIn profile and keep it updated with your successes, attend work & law functions and if you feel confident enough, try to get a spot as a speaker at a conference to get your name out there and build some credibility.
You should place an emphasis on demonstrating a wider breadth of experience. In-house counsel roles are of a generalist nature, requiring expert knowledge on your own firm’s subject matter which means sometimes outsiders can see this as limiting your experience. Don’t give them reason to doubt your experience, show recruiters how far your knowledge and skills stretch.
Most recruiters consider the ideal candidates as those who can exhibit ethical behaviour and consistent principles, as well as excellent communication skills, confidence and ability to work independently.
If you are stepping-up and applying for a regional management position then you must meet 2 essential criteria:
You must have broad and extensive experience
You must possess a wider world-view/transnational familiarity
These 2 criteria are practically non-negotiable as more and more law firms operate internationally and as such the fundamental aspects of other international establishments must be understood and navigated with care and delicacy in order to do business overseas.