General Counsel Get Schooled

A recent blog post about an imaginary school for general counsel by London-based GC Brett Farrell spawned a lively discussion – followed up by – about precisely what kind of courses should be taught at such a school were one to exist. A few of the proposed courses would develop skills in lean management, efficient information management, interacting with business partners, business writing, leadership, creating structure, and general courses in things like accounting and microeconomics.

What all these classes have in common is that they ask general counsel to put themselves in the shoes of their business counterpart clients. Jeff Myers, associate general counsel of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, aptly notes, “In today’s world, professionals need to be more client-oriented.” Sound familiar?

In the case of in-house counsel, the client is the company housing you, and while the specifics of approach may differ, the general concept is the same: it’s about serving the needs of the client, building relationships, and coming from a place of generosity by viewing things from the client’s perspective. For general counsel, understanding the business of the company you represent is crucial to being able to provide sound advice when legal questions crop up. Being able to offer opinions in plain language – meeting internal clients where they are – and make clear-cut recommendations that produce results will get you farther than quoting case law and asking the client to make a decision. It’s about tailoring perspective and approach to fit the client and best serve them, which may take a bit of creativity at times. But when you can do that, you become that much better at your job, which is good for everyone.

What classes would you add to the general counsel school? Comment below.