The role of the general counsel goes beyond advising on legal and compliance matters. GCs wear many hats and a few roles brought up in one of today’s afternoon panels included government relations, compliance officers and even human resources.
Though the panelists expressed very different experiences because of the size and shape of their legal departments, each explained that they’re able to juggle their many roles for different reasons:
- established relationships and protocols that have stood the test of time because processes and procedures are open and flexible
- recognizing core competencies
- bringing in people to focus on subject matters - expertise is always obtainable; define and assess the situation and employ the troops you need to address it
- acting as generalists; as Vivian Tseng, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Welch Foods Inc., A Cooperative, pointed out, the “general” in general counsel oftentimes rings true
Christine Jones, former executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Go Daddy Operating Company, said, “never don’t take a job because you don’t know how to do it. The only thing you learned in law school is how to find the answer and you can find the answer to anything.”
The session ended with the panelists offering their greatest achievements as general counsel, a list that included developing deep relationships and trust with the entire organization from the CEO to human resources to the board; affecting policy; creating jobs; mentoring people; upholding a company’s integrity and tone; striving for positive change on a daily basis; and making a difference in peoples’ lives.