Does your company’s General Counsel play a key role in business strategy? Is he or she leading the charge in compliance? Serving on another company board?
The majority of General Counsel today are acting in these capacities, BarkerGilmore found in a recent survey. Not only that, but more executives across the country are recognizing the importance of the General Counsel’s contributions and valuing them as peers in the C-Suite.
The survey, “GCs in the Boardroom and Beyond,” is already gaining traction in the legal community after its release earlier this month. It has been cited in respected publications including Corporate Counsel and Inside Counsel.
Results show 86 percent of directors said their General Counsel is a member of the executive management team today, something only 56 percent of respondents said was true 10 years ago. This means General Counsel have more clout and are more in demand, which is translating to higher salaries.
It’s good news for corporate lawyers and companies that prefer to build stronger in-house legal departments rather than outsourcing. In-house lawyers are more in-step with executives, making it easier for them to evaluate deals or potential problems, BarkerGilmore Managing Partner John Gilmore said.
General Counsel are also more frequently serving on boards as independent directors.
That includes directly contributing to profits by advising the CEO and board on mergers and acquisitions. A more regulated business environment and a lack of public trust in corporations have brought compliance issues to the forefront, making it more important for companies to have a trusted in-house legal advisor leading the way. In fact, 98 percent of directors said their General Counsel plays an important role in compliance and ethics.
Other key findings include:
- 95% said the General Counsel guides the board to follow governance best practices
- 91% of directors said the General Counsel is a trusted adviser to the board
- 85% said the General Counsel acts as a trusted adviser to the CEO
- 71% of directors said the General Counsel actively contributes to strategy
The survey included responses from approximately 225 directors serving as chairman, committee chairs or CEOs at publicly traded companies representing a range of market capitalizations in the United States.
Full results of the survey may be downloaded here.