Whether you’ve been in your general counsel role for a week or a year, getting up to speed and comfortable with all of your new responsibilities can be challenging. But having an idea of what to expect can make the transition easier and help you settle in quickly during a period of change.
● You’re now the go-to source for all things legal
● You’re looked to for help with business strategy and C-level executives rely on you
● You must determine the acceptable level of risk to operate within while driving business growth
Below you’ll find some additional considerations to keep in mind as a new general counsel.
And for a more complete guide to help you succeed in your position, download Surviving and Conquering Your New Role as Corporate Counsel.
Management responsibilities, team/talent development
According to a publication from Heidrick and Struggles, “...the GC must possess outstanding management skills, including the ability to develop talent, plan for succession, and direct a global team.”
Most GCs are heavily reliant upon their supporting cast, so it’s in your best interest to make team development a priority and provide ample opportunities for your staff to learn, grow, and thrive. Whether it’s paralegals, risk analysts, operations specialists, or other team members, the better they are at their jobs, the more effective you’ll be in your role.
Here are some ways you and your team can continue your professional development and expand your knowledge within the industry:
● Attend trade shows and conferences to hear the latest news and developments and connect with others in your field
● Make time for ongoing education by registering for online courses and relevant webinars
● Read industry publications for insights and perspectives on the topics that are most meaningful to your business
All contracts go through you and are your responsibility
Ensuring your contract portfolio is organized and accessible will be one of the most critical steps you take early on in your new role. Every type of agreement - customer contracts, vendor agreements, leasing contracts, etc. - and every individual contract are now your responsibility, and you’ll likely need to approve all contracts going forward. To take control of the existing contract portfolio, you have to know where all of the contracts are stored and be able to access them.
This can be a major pain point for new GCs, especially if you are taking on the role at a company that doesn't have a strong system in place for managing all corporate agreements. One of the biggest challenges you might run into is trying to manage a contract portfolio that sprawls across various locations, hard drives, shared drives, filing cabinets, and email inboxes. The reality is if you don’t have quick and easy access to all of your contracts, it’s impossible to do your job effectively.
Part of your job is to have the answers to questions like:
● How many contracts are coming up for renewal? And which ones?
● How many contracts are ending and need to be renegotiated?
● What’s the current value of the contract portfolio? How much is going out vs. how much is coming in?
● How do we account for version control and ensure everyone is working from the most recent version of the contract?
For more tips to help you succeed in your new in-house position, download Surviving and Conquering Your New Corporate Counsel Role: Tips for a Successful Career Transition.
Some of this content was previously published on the ContractWorks blog.