Bringing it In-House: What to Look For When Hiring a General Counsel?

What To Look While Hiring A General Counsel

A corporation recommends searching for in-house counsel who can actively help maintain the social links and ties with the local council or control legal risks. If you are willing to know how to hire and what qualities to find in the general counsel, you are at the right place. This blog provides quality information about the process of hiring general counsel and what to look for to determine ideal candidates.

Most companies hire a general counsel when their top-level planning, various business activities, and ongoing developments involve taking the advice of an attorney or lawyer.

Hiring a general counsel doesn’t rule out the necessity for outside counsel. The ideal in-house counsel will be able to work with and cooperate with skilled outside counsel. It is often found that many senior legal professionals joined startups to take on the general counsel roles.

When it comes to hiring a general counsel for companies, the best way to conduct a candidate search is by partnering with a C-suite recruitment firm. A general counsel is often a part of top management or a consultant who guides the senior and mid-level leadership. A C-suite executive search professional with experience in hiring for top legal roles would be able to optimize the search and selection process.

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Let’s first help you get the right answers to the tricky questions surrounding hiring a general counsel.

Legal General Counsel Hiring: The Tricky Side

1) Hire for a temporary position or a permanent role?

Whether it is about responding to employee lawsuits, public announcements, media responses, or contracts with suppliers or vendors, the legal risk needs to be correctly assessed and addressed. C-suite members rely on legal advice before making any major decision that might have legal consequences.

Law firm charges are always a financial burden. The question of hiring an attorney as a general counsel for a temporary or a permanent period depends on the amount of time that will be spent on legal risk assessment and paperwork. It also depends upon the nature of the business whether a deep involvement from an attorney would be needed for a short period of time or a long one.

Your requirements will tell you if you need to hire a temporary position or a permanent role. Some top C-suite executive search experts suggest trying an interim position before deciding whether to keep the position a permanent one.

2) Focus on industry knowledge or top academic background?

Hiring a general counsel in a company could be based on any number of factors. You might require someone with contacts, practical experience, and insights that comes from long experience or someone with superior knowledge and elite academic background.

The C-suite recruitment experts who have experience in hiring a general counsel find that startups who need in-house counsel often go for an experienced veteran to benefit from their wide industry experience.

On the other hand, a legal counsel from a top law school would be of tremendous benefit to a company that requires legal advice for strategic planning and implementation of the right practices.

3) Give a mid-management position or a top management role?

It depends on your company and who will be guided by the in-house general counsel. Hiring a general counsel for a mid-management role is appropriate when the position holder has to mostly guide senior managers and project managers, and the role is limited to legal checks and framing of paperwork.

4) Hire a Lawyer or an Attorney/Advocate?

It is crucial to understand the difference between an attorney and a lawyer. An attorney is a lawyer who has passed the bar exam and can represent clients in courts and participate in judicial matters in litigation. An advocate is a lawyer with experience in offering legal advice on critical matters.

An attorney can provide a lot of experience and practical insights when serving as a general counsel, whereas hiring a lawyer costs less and would be ideal when the position has more to do with preparing and checking paperwork, agreements, and contracts.

Experience and Knowledge To Look For When Hiring A General Counsel: 4 Key Points

1) Knowledge of Legal Practices in your Industry

While hiring a general counsel for your firm or agency, you need to figure out their knowledge in your industry. Make sure to check out the knowledge of the legal practices in your industry. This will help you get the right general counsel without wasting much time and money.

2) Great Deal Of Experience In Legal Activities Typical To Your Company and Markets

If we talk about the most crucial attributes which are sought in or expected of a strong general counsel candidate are their expertise and good judgment. Knowledge is one thing, and practical experience is quite another matter. Experience helps incorrectly and quickly assess the impact of any specific decision or course of action. We all know that judgment is quite hard to teach. When a general counsel is experienced enough, their judgment will no longer take much time.

The general counsel should have leadership qualities that usually come from experience. It is extremely valuable to have experience in legal activities to deal with any complicated situations. Your typical company and markets require a great deal of experience handling legal issues and related terms in the most effective way. Make sure to look for knowledge and experience while hiring a general counsel.

3) Expertise in Drafting Contracts / MoUs for Different Types of Projects and Collaborations Your Company Undertakes

The general counsel must have expertise in drafting contracts and have first-class communication skills. These experiences and skills are important to lead a successful business without legal issues. However, these skills are not all intuitive. Experience in drafting contracts plays a major role.

It is important for different projects and collaborations that your company undertakes. It is also important for the general counsel to be able to adapt communication to the audience and simplify the complicated legal matters if necessary. Lacking experience may lead or drag into some negative aspects of your company. Degrees are easy to identify, but the experience is challenging to figure out.

4) Ability To Understand and Solve HR Legal Issues

Hiring a general counsel who can see opportunities and risks is the most critical benefit for new in-house attorneys. Mainly general counsel understands the conventional corporate trustee process, rules, and laws. They will always keep one eye on the risk and advise clients in high-risk circumstances.

Your company’s general counsel needs to handle the worst situation most effectively. A general counsel should have the ability to understand any legal terms and rated issues. If your company faces challenging times due to legal terms, then they will be of great help. Before hiring a general counsel, make sure to check if they have a great ability to understand and solve HR legal issues or not.

An experienced general counsel can handle many cases. If you don’t select an experienced attorney, you will become their guinea pig. An experienced attorney has a strong will and a wealth of real-world experience, and they have honed their skills with full preparation to assist you.


It is always worth hiring a general counsel to ensure that you are completely compliant from the legal perspective. He or she will assist you in ensuring that any contract that you enter into is properly fulfilled so that your interest and related authorities are well maintained. Get in touch with an expert C-suite recruitment firm with experience in legal counsel hiring for top roles.

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Alliance Recruitment Agency

Alliance Recruitment Agency is a global company offering executive search services in 30+ countries. We have worked with over 10,000 firms and managed their various top-level recruitment needs.

We also have C-suite executive search experts with experience in hiring for top legal roles. Let us know if you are considering hiring a general counsel. We assure you of the superior talent search and hiring results.