Most bosses lack confidence in senior in-house lawyers
Corporate board directors lack confidence in the ability of their senior in-house lawyers to deal with business risk and uncertainty, a survey has revealed.
Less than 40 per cent of top-flight business executives told researchers that their general counsel managed uncertainty well.
Business leaders also took the view that the role of general counsel was predominantly functional, with much of their responsibilities involving responses to internal legal requirements, the survey, which has been released exclusively to The Times, found.
That view at the head of the boardroom table conflicts significantly with general counsels’ view of themselves.
Nearly 70 per cent of those responding to the survey said that they managed business uncertainty well, while the consensus among senior in-house lawyers was that they spent less than 20 per cent of their time on internal legal issues.
John Jeffcock, chief executive of Winmark, the networking group that conducted the survey, said that as regulation issues became an increasing concern for senior executives, the status of general counsel would rise.
“This enables GCs for the first time to play the leading role in strategy,” he said, adding that the research team identified a range of differences between how boards perceived the role of in-house counsel and their actual performance.
Simon Konsta, senior partner at Clyde & Co, the City of London law firm that sponsored the research, said the report “shows that at every level, the general counsel role is being reinterpreted and reaffirmed in light of the changing risk and regulatory landscape that businesses face.
“Because of these changes, the successful, modern general counsel must deploy a blistering array of commercial, legal and wider business skills on a daily basis.”