01 May 2019

New study on how counsel needs to pivot for seat at the C-Suite table

Morrison & Foerster offers insight in global study on redefined role of general counsel, highlights investment in leadership and people skills.


Among other things, the study found that more than four out of five general counsel (81 per cent) want to have a seat at the c-suite table, which requires them to further develop people and leadership skills in addition to having traditional problem solving legal abilities.

Lacking emotion and team-building

The global study titled “In the Face of Complexity and Change, the Time to Lead is Now.” canvassing quantitative and qualitative input from 200 General Counsel and other senior legal leaders across the US, Asia, and Europe. The study explores how the general counsel role is evolving in the midst of organizational, technological, and geopolitical change, and identifies the biggest challenges that GCs and their in-house legal departments face. The study was developed in partnership with Global Leaders in Law, an ALM media offering for GCs, and is part of Morrison & Foerster’s “GC {RE}DEFINED” thought leadership program. The study also highlights a gap between the perception of securing a c-suite type of role and the skills general counsel feel they should be focusing on for their personal development. When ranking critical skills needed by the gc of the future, 44 per cent of respondents cited legal skills as a top strength, but only 28 per cent cited emotional intelligence and 10 per cent team building as priorities.

Six themes

“We conducted this global study to support the growth and impact of GCs in a complex environment, where the speed of change will only increase,” said Larren Nashelsky, chair of Morrison & Foerster. “We hope that the study’s findings and our wider “GC {RE}DEFINED” thought leadership program will spark additional conversations, and help GCs draw upon insights from their peers as their role is further redefined.” The study identifies six themes that encompass the ever-expanding role of the GC: law, people, business, process, risk, and technology. Core findings around these themes include: Law, people/legal team, process, risk and technology: The report can be downloaded here.

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