General Counsel: Not Just Another Back Office Hero Anymore

The role of general counsel has undergone evolution due to shifts in the business environment, regulatory frameworks, and the escalating legal matters
General Counsel: Not Just Another Back Office Hero Anymore

At one point in time, the job of an in-house counsel was considered to be just a paper pusher or maintaining back-office compliance.

With changing times, however, the role of general counsel (GC) in companies has evolved significantly in recent years, driven by changes in the business environment, regulatory landscape, and the increasing complexity of legal issues.

Here are some key aspects that highlight the changing nature of GC’s role:

Strategic Advisors To C-Suite

  • Traditionally, the GCs were primarily seen as legal experts, but now they are increasingly viewed as strategic advisors to the executive team and the board. They contribute to the key business decisions, helping align legal strategies with overall corporate goals.

Risk Management & Compliance

  • With the growing complexity of regulations globally, GCs are more involved in identifying and mitigating risks. They play a crucial role in ensuring that the organization complies with the relevant laws and regulations, reducing the likelihood of legal issues.

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Technology & Data Privacy

  • The rise of technology has introduced new legal challenges, particularly in the areas of data privacy and cybersecurity. GCs are now expected to have a deep understanding of these issues and implement strategies to protect the organization from legal and reputational risks.


  • Companies are increasingly operating on a global scale, which brings about a range of legal challenges related to different jurisdictions, legal systems, and cultural nuances. GCs are required to navigate these complexities and ensure legal consistency and compliance across borders.

Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

  • There is a growing emphasis on corporate ethics and social responsibility. GCs play a role in developing and overseeing corporate policies that align with the ethical standards and societal expectations, addressing issues such as environmental sustainability and social impact.

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Crisis Management

  • GCs are often at the forefront during the times of crisis, providing legal guidance and helping the organization navigate legal challenges. This includes handling issues like product recalls, financial scandals, or other emergencies that may have legal implications.

In-House Legal Teams

  • GCs are building and leading strong in-house legal teams to handle a broader array of legal matters internally. This allows for more effective management of legal functions and facilitates a proactive approach to legal issues.

Technology Adoption

  • GCs are increasingly leveraging legal technology tools -- such as artificial intelligence (AI)-powered analytics, contract management systems, and e-discovery tools -- to streamline legal processes, enhance efficiency, and reduce costs.

Communication & Collaboration

  • Collaboration with other departments such as finance, human resources, and marketing, has become crucial. GCs need strong communication skills to work effectively with cross-functional teams and ensure legal considerations are integrated into various business functions.

Advocacy & Public Relations

  • In addition to managing legal matters internally, GCs are often involved in external matters. They represent the company's legal stance in public and dealing with stakeholders, including government bodies, industry groups, and the media.

GCs have transformed into a multifaceted and strategic position that goes beyond traditional legal functions. They are now expected to be proactive, adaptable, and deeply integrated into the overall business strategy of the organization.

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