A general counsel, also called a chief legal officer, is the chief lawyer in the legal department of an organization. The counsel represents an enterprise for any pending legal matters. They work proactively to lessen possible problems associated with legalities and potential risks. They have to monitor practices and the people within the law firm for misconduct. They also perform dominant roles in regulation, ethics, public affairs, and legislation. It is common for them to serve as the public spokesperson of the company during the publicity of legal matters.

General Counsel Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real general counsel resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Assist in liaising with insurance authorities, responding to regulatory inquiries and managing relationship with region from legal and business perspective.
  • Review subpoenas and attorney letters for compliance with HIPAA and institutional guidelines and coordinate non-party depositions as needed.
  • Prepare dozens of complex commercial transactions in connection to equity and debt securities offerings.
  • Handle regulatory, compliance, licensing, and registration matters for securities broker- dealer and register investment adviser.
  • Supervise commercial litigation, arbitration and claims, including case strategy, pleadings preparation, hearings, depositions and settlement negotiations.
  • Supervise and train unit charge with securing patient medical records, ensuring compliance with Medicare and HIPAA regulations and accreditation standards.
  • Assist in liaising with insurance authorities, responding to regulatory inquiries and managing relationship with region from legal and business perspective.
  • Review and provide legal approval of all documentation provide to outside oversight organizations.

General Counsel Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 12% of General Counsels are proficient in Litigation, Legal Issues, and Legal Advice. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Interpersonal skills, and Problem-solving skills.

We break down the percentage of General Counsels that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Litigation, 12%

    Supervised commercial litigation, arbitration and claims, including case strategy, pleadings preparation, hearings, depositions and settlement negotiations.

  • Legal Issues, 8%

    Addressed all wind-down legal issues of original company including drafting and negotiating settlement agreements and working with outside litigation counsel.

  • Legal Advice, 8%

    Provided staff with legal opinions regarding fair housing complaints filed with our organization and provided legal advice regarding landlord tenant questions.

  • Intellectual Property, 5%

    Developed and established an intellectual property portfolio, including patents and trademarks relating to various aspects of the company's technology.

  • Risk Management, 4%

    Worked closely with Risk Management Department on insurance matters including development of standard form releases for athletes participating in company events.

  • Ethics, 4%

    Developed, implemented and managed key business ethics programs including FCPA compliance and other anti-bribery/anti-kickback programs.

Some of the skills we found on general counsel resumes included "litigation," "legal issues," and "legal advice." We have detailed the most important general counsel responsibilities below.

  • The most important skills for a general counsel to have in this position are analytical skills. In this excerpt that we gathered from a general counsel resume, you'll understand why: "lawyers help their clients resolve problems and issues" According to resumes we found, analytical skills can be used by a general counsel in order to "lead paralegal for maintaining and updating litigation case database; confers with information technology staff regarding technical improvement processes and usage. "
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform general counsel duties is the following: interpersonal skills. According to a general counsel resume, "lawyers must win the respect and confidence of their clients by building a trusting relationship so that clients feel comfortable enough to share personal information related to their case." Check out this example of how general counsels use interpersonal skills: "demonstrated effective interpersonal skills through working closely with office of general counsel and administrative appeals judges. "
  • Problem-solving skills is also an important skill for general counsels to have. This example of how general counsels use this skill comes from a general counsel resume, "lawyers must separate their emotions and prejudice from their clients’ problems and objectively evaluate the relevant applicable information" Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "retained and managed outside counsel for complex litigation matters and prepared legal documents to facilitate resolutions. "
  • A thorough review of lots of resumes revealed to us that "research skills" is important to completing general counsel responsibilities. This resume example shows just one way general counsels use this skill: "lawyers need to be able to find those laws and regulations which apply to a specific matter, in order to provide the appropriate legal advice for their clients." Here's an example of how this skill is used from a resume that represents typical general counsel tasks: "researched, interviewed and retained outside legal counsel; managed litigation as necessary. "
  • Yet another important skill that a general counsel must demonstrate is "speaking skills." Lawyers must be able to clearly present and explain their case to arbitrators, mediators, opposing parties, judges, or juries, because they are speaking on behalf of their clients. This is clearly demonstrated in this example from a general counsel who stated: "represented the bank in litigation and unemployment compensation hearings. "
  • Another skill commonly found on general counsel resumes is "writing skills." This description of the skill was found on several general counsel resumes: "lawyers need to be precise and specific when preparing documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney." Here's an example from a resume of how this skill could fit into the day-to-day general counsel responsibilities: "conducted legal research and writing assignments regarding mine act adjudication, such as statutory interpretation and jurisdictional issues. "
  • See the full list of general counsel skills.

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    What Litigation Associates Do

    A Litigation Associate offers legal advice for individuals involved in lawsuits and represents them in court. They prepare pleading, collect evidence, defend depositions, and manage the client database.

    In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take litigation associate for example. On average, the litigation associates annual salary is $13,132 lower than what general counsels make on average every year.

    While the salaries between these two careers can be different, they do share some of the same responsibilities. Employees in both general counsels and litigation associates positions are skilled in litigation, legal issues, and intellectual property.

    As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because a general counsel responsibility requires skills such as "legal advice," "juris," "risk management," and "ethics." Whereas a litigation associate is skilled in "discovery motions," "insurance coverage," "pre-trial motions," and "federal courts." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

    Litigation associates really shine in the professional industry with an average salary of $151,203. Whereas general counsels tend to make the most money in the finance industry with an average salary of $135,018.

    The education levels that litigation associates earn is a bit different than that of general counsels. In particular, litigation associates are 4.3% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than a general counsel. Additionally, they're 12.6% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Contract Attorney?

    A contract attorney is responsible for handling their clients' legal issues and settling cases by researching, analyzing, and collecting essential files that would support the clients' claims. Contract attorneys usually work for private clients without being permanently employed in a law firm or government agency. Contract attorneys represent clients at court, assist with law proceedings, and advise clients for the necessary legal procedures. A contract attorney must have excellent communication and critical-thinking skills to manage client legal matters and expertise in traditional disciplines and processes.

    Next up, we have the contract attorney profession to look over. This career brings along a lower average salary when compared to a general counsel annual salary. In fact, contract attorneys salary difference is $27,774 lower than the salary of general counsels per year.

    Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. General counsels and contract attorneys both include similar skills like "litigation," "legal issues," and "legal advice" on their resumes.

    But both careers also use different skills, according to real general counsel resumes. While general counsel responsibilities can utilize skills like "risk management," "ethics," "human resources," and "legal support," some contract attorneys use skills like "e-discovery," "real estate," "privilege logs," and "qc."

    On the topic of education, contract attorneys earn similar levels of education than general counsels. In general, they're 1.7% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 12.6% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Staff Attorney Compares

    Staff Attorneys are legal employees who work for a variety of organizations, often as full-time employees. They use their legal expertise to help deal with day-to-day legal issues with which their organization needs regular assistance.

    Let's now take a look at the staff attorney profession. On average, these workers make lower salaries than general counsels with a $15,220 difference per year.

    By looking over several general counsels and staff attorneys resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "litigation," "legal issues," and "legal advice." But beyond that the careers look very different.

    There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, a general counsel is likely to be skilled in "risk management," "ethics," "human resources," and "corporate governance," while a typical staff attorney is skilled in "appeals," "administrative agencies," "real estate," and "civil rights."

    Additionally, staff attorneys earn a higher salary in the professional industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $113,835. Additionally, general counsels earn an average salary of $135,018 in the finance industry.

    When it comes to education, staff attorneys tend to earn similar education levels than general counsels. In fact, they're 3.3% less likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 13.4% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of an Attorney

    Generally, an attorney's responsibility is to advise the client with an ongoing lawsuit on the legal procedures and provide strategies to resolve the case as early as possible. An attorney compiles necessary documents or any records for appeal and client's defense. Attorneys must acquire strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to mediate disputes and settle pending litigation for the client's best interest. In some cases, an attorney's procedure depends on any evidence and research presented during the trial period. An attorney is expected to present clients on legal proceedings, seeking justice and justifying the law.

    The fourth career we look at typically earns lower pay than general counsels. On average, attorneys earn a difference of $15,772 lower per year.

    While their salaries may vary, general counsels and attorneys both use similar skills to perform their jobs. Resumes from both professions include skills like "litigation," "legal issues," and "legal advice. "

    While some skills are shared by these professions, there are some differences to note. "risk management," "ethics," "human resources," and "legal support" are skills that have shown up on general counsels resumes. Additionally, attorney uses skills like appeals, trial preparation, social security, and law practice on their resumes.

    The average resume of attorneys showed that they earn similar levels of education to general counsels. So much so that the likelihood of them earning a Master's Degree is 2.4% less. Additionally, they're more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree by 4.9%.

    What a General Counsel Does FAQs

    Chief Legal Officer Vs. General Counsel

    A chief legal officer focuses on the legal department and providing valid business solutions to arising problems, while the general counsel focuses on managing a company's legal compliance and corporate governance.

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