The Role of a General Counsel

July 5, 2024

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What is a General Counsel? 

A general counsel (or otherwise commonly referred to as a GC)  are the “go-to” legal advisors for senior leadership within their organizations. They advise CEOs and board members and are well versed on the different laws and regulations it takes to run an organization like policy, ethics, and risks. General counsels are also expected to be complex problem solvers, drawing upon broader business knowledge to provide creative solutions for senior leadership. 

The role of general counsel is vital in helping the organization navigate legal complexities and make informed decisions that align with the law supporting the company’s strategic objectives. As a result, a cornerstone of success in this role is to familiarize with other parts of the business such as finance, sales and marketing, making them a well rounded, trustworthy advisor and a strategic partner to the organization.

The in-house legal team is composed of various roles, each with specific responsibilities that contribute to the overall legal health and strategy of the organization. Below are other related roles within in-house legal teams:

Associate Corporate Counsel General Counsel
Head of Legal & Legal Department Chief Legal Officer
Corporate Paralegal Contract Paralegal

What are the responsibilities of a GC? 

There are a number of day-to-day responsibilities to which the general counsel is responsible for. While they are the legal advisor to the business, they are also tasked with overseeing all legal related activities that come through to the legal department. Some key responsibilities of this role include: 

  • Legal Advice: As the advisor to senior leadership, they must provide counsel on various legal issues facing the business and come up with creative ways to solve complex business issues. 
  • Contract Negotiation: The general counsel must oversee all contract related activities that come through to the business. 
  • Compliance: In this role, they must ensure that the company remains compliant with relevant laws, regulations, and guidelines to keep operations and business activities moving forward. 
  • Risk Management: General counsels are responsible for identifying and managing legal risks the organization may face while implementing intelligent and creative problem solving skills to mitigate those risks. 
  • Litigation Management: Overseeing and handling legal disputes is an integral part in the role as a GC. In these cases, they must also be able to coordinate with external law firms, when required, to handle any litigation matters. 
  • Corporate Governance: As advisors to senior leadership, GCs are expected to advise on matters regarding corporate governance to ensure the organization remains compliant. 

How are GCs leveraging legal technology to support their work?

With plateauing headcounts and tighter budgets, GCs are seeing an increase in their workloads and a decrease in headcount. From handling a diverse array of legal issues, there is more pressure to do more with less resources while taking on additional strategic responsibilities beyond just legal advice. While navigating these challenges, GCs also are continuously looking to elevate their role from a support function to a strategic partner, providing leadership on key business, regulatory, and operational issues facing the organization. As a result, more and more GCs are turning towards implementing legal technology tools to streamline processes, create playbooks, and delegate their routine work. 

There are a number of tools available on the market that can help GCs manage and streamline their day-to-day work; one of those tools is matter management for in-house counsel. This software helps GCs and their legal teams organize and track all legal matters, contracts, and other documents in a centralized platform that provides legal analytics into the status and details of all ongoing legal matters through reporting capabilities and matter data analysis. This tool also enhances collaboration and knowledge sharing across the legal team and organization, helping to improve relationships with senior leaders across the company. Other tools that are useful for supporting a GCs role include Intake & Triage and Workflow Automation.

How Checkbox can help

Checkbox provides general counsel software through intake and matter management for in-house counsel. Our platform centralizes all legal matters, documents, and files to provide GCs with a single source of truth for their legal operations. This comprehensive view helps them to gain visibility into legal performance and key metrics to assess the workload of their legal departments. 

Discover how Checkbox can help streamline the work of GCs by exploring our interactive demo to see the benefits firsthand.

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