Career Development » How to Become a General Counsel

How to Become a General Counsel


July 11, 2019

Former GC Bill Solomon has some advice for lawyers who aspire to lead a law department. There shouldn’t be any doubts about your character. Be known for thoughtfulness, clarity and accuracy. Know everything there is to know about the company, the industry and applicable law. Enable people to succeed and earn a reputation for being collaborative and empowering. Give junior lawyers and paralegals key assignments, then they’ll have your back when you need them. Be respectful of everyone in the enterprise as a matter of decency, but also because they might be promoted. Prioritize your work, do it promptly and stand by the decisions you make. Forgive mistakes and failures as long as people are trying their best and you think they have the capability to do the job, especially if you’re empowering new lawyers in challenging positions. Don’t be afraid to say, “Here’s what I think based upon my knowledge in this area, but I’m not positive, and this is a risky area, so let me get back to you with a definitive answer.” Stand up and serve as the guardian of the enterprise. Don’t weaken concerning risk. At the end of the day, the regulators, the plaintiffs, the board of directors are going to look to the law department and say, “Where were you?”

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