How to Find the Right General Counsel Candidate for Your Executive Team – Part II

In looking for a general counsel, most CEOs seek out a candidate with intelligence, gravitas, strategic vision, emotional intelligence, management experience and someone who can act as an advisor. These characteristics are followed by having specific industry experience, legal expertise and the right instinct to handle the unique pain points of a client’s particular business. Most of these desired qualities are soft skills and are not evident from a resume. Let’s take a look at each one.

“Unless you’re facing a unique situation, look for a generalist—someone with a broad range of skills.”

CONSIDER THE HARD SKILLS FIRST

1. What’s on the resume.
Companies hiring a GC are often looking to fill an immediate need, such as a litigator for a pending case, or a regulatory specialist for an ongoing issue.

Unless your organization is facing a unique situation such as those, look for a generalist—someone with a broad range of skills who can help the company move forward in the diverse areas facing modern corporations. This person typically has experience working with a board of directors and should be able to handle corporate matters while also troubleshooting litigation, regulatory, labor and employment, among other issues. It is imperative to consider your organization’s long-term strategic and business plan and not just the bug bite that itches most today.

2. Industry-specific and/or public-company experience.
If your company is public, consider a GC with recent securities experience. If your company is highly regulated, someone coming from another regulated industry may be of value.

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Deborah Ben-Canaan
Deborah Ben-Canaan is a partner at Major, Lindsey & Africa and the leader of the Washington, D.C. In-House Practice Group. She can be reached at 202-628-0665 or dbencanaan@mlaglobal.com.  

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