Companies Want GC to Foresee Risk
May 3, 2013
This article is an analysis based on a KPMG International survey entitled “Beyond the Law: KPMG’s Global Study of How General Counsel are Turning Risk unto Advantage.” The survey ascertained from general counsel worldwide how their firms are using their skills. The authors found a trend for the GC to become more involved with decisions and strategic planning that anticipates regulatory issues and heads off risk.
Traditionally, the role of the GC was detached from business goals in order to give robust, independent legal advice. Now, to expand their role and help their organizations achieve strategic objectives, general counsel must engage in commercial decision-making, while still remaining the organization’s “legal conscience.”
Nevertheless, many general counsel still feel they are seen as the last stop for approval – or worse, as a “necessary evil,” a phrase used by about a third of those interviewed. Less than a third were currently focusing on anticipation of risk as one of their top three tasks.
The authors observe that boards expect the GC to be commercially aware and to combine this awareness with legal knowledge and experience; to balance commercial and legal decisions; and to speak in a language that can be understood across the organization. Regulatory change, business relationships, dispute management and risk to reputation are seen as areas where general counsel can add value beyond legal expertise. The GC now has opportunities to turn risk assessment into competitive advantage.
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