I spoke to 5 CEOs who have hired General Counsels or set up a legal team to learn about their experiences.
Since it is often a CEO or CFO who decides who to hire as a General Counsel or Legal Head, I think this advice would be pretty important!
We need you to anticipate problems rather than react
Some major amendments to consumer law got passed back in August. As an in-house counsel, did you follow the law from the inception of the bill to the point when it got notified?
Have you considered if the new law will in any way add new burdens or make things easy for your employer?
If we are expanding into new territory, in terms of business or a location,
It is difficult to find lawyers with this ability, but that is what makes a few in-house counsels indispensable.
Are you the lawyer who tells us what we can’t do because the law says we can’t?
However, you cannot be the naysayer who just tells us the dry letter of the law.
How about we separate the retail company from the delivery business, the warehousing, and the infrastructure facility?
Another side of this is that you need to understand and speak yourself in corporate-speak / business jargon that is common in your industry.
You need to hire a team, build systems and structure the legal and compliance function
I would also expect you to be able to build a team in place to leverage your expertise and structure it for a high level of efficiency.
Many growing businesses hire their first lawyer to save the regular outflow of money to outside lawyers and law firms. And it is often a good strategy.
You need to build the capacity to do a lot of work inhouse and outsource only in special cases.
You need to tell us how you can add value because we don't always know
Whatever we know about that, is what the other lawyers we worked with taught us.
The best general counsels always do.