General Counsel

Many General Counsels are seeking greater predictability surrounding the legal costs. A popular option within the wide range of alternative fees is paying for legal services by task (instead of by the hour).

General Counsel

General Counsel: Overview

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The General Counsel, sometimes referred to as the Chief Legal Officer, assumes the leadership role within an in-house legal department. The General Counsel is responsible for overseeing all facets of the corporate legal structure, from identifying legal issues across departments to monitoring compliance within the organization. Traditionally, General Counsels have taken on an administrative role within the management of in-house legal departments and used outside firms or in-house teams of attorneys to carry out the more complex legal duties. More recently, however, the General Counsels of Fortune 500 companies have moved towards a more prominent leadership position by advising the Board of Directors and the CEO directly on a wide variety of legal matters.

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Innovation requires major effort. It requires hard work on the part of performing, capable people- the scarcest resource in any organization.
— Peter F. Drucker, Leading 20th Century Management Thinker

General Counsel: Goals and Responsibilities

One of the primary objectives for any General Counsel is to ensure that every department’s leadership is compliant with all external regulations and company policies. A General Counsel’s duties include identifying legal issues within marketing, sales, engineering, human resources, production and corporate governance departments, and then advising both those departments and the firm leadership on how to deal with the issues. As a result, the General Counsel must be familiar with every department, and is often intimately involved in most if not all of the company’s activities.

 

As the ranking position of leadership in the in-house legal department, the General Counsel is also directly responsible for managing all legal matters that arise with regards to the firm. This role includes dealing with intellectual properties, mergers and acquisitions, labor law, and tax work. The tasks can be carried out by the in-house counsel, with the General Counsel acting in a management and oversight capacity, or they can be outsourced to an external legal firm. In this case, the General Counsel acts as the liaison between the outside counsel and the corporate leadership, determining benchmarks and managing the relationship.

General Counsel and Argopoint: Solutions and Savings

As a market leader in cost-cutting measures and outside counsel rationalization for Fortune 500 legal departments, Argopoint works directly with the General Counsel to improve efficiency and cut costs for the corporation. Argopoint consultants have extensive experience with outside counsel rationalization, RFP processes, and legal benchmarking, all of which fall under the duties and responsibilities of the General Counsel’s office. Argopoint’s services allow the General Counsel to ensure that these necessary tasks are completed to the highest quality standards in a manner that maximizes efficiency and transparency, which ultimately saves time and money for the corporate legal department.

Questions for Corporate Legal Departments Pertaining to the General Counsel

  1. What kind of role does your firm's General Counsel fulfill? Are they actively involved in legal matters or do they maintain an administrative role?
  2. How does your legal department evaluate candidates for the General Counsel position?
  3. Is the General Counsel involved in maintaining the relationship with outside counsel?
  4. Does your General Counsel's team have the resources and experience to properly evaluate outside counsel?
  5. Is your General Counsel considering restructuring or cutting costs for his or her legal department?