Below you can find a standard description of what a General Counsel is and their function within the business. But how do you tailor this to your company?
The General Counsel ensures that a company operates within the law at all times, offers counsel on legal issues and develops business strategies. Those who successfully become GCs will be able to ensure legal compliance and limit risk exposure for their companies.
A strong General Counsel job description should do two things: introduce the role, and outline your expectations for it. Job descriptions can tell a candidate many things but they should do so in a clear and concise way.
Once you’ve covered the basics, you can clearly spell out the qualifications, duties and expectations for the role. How you measure this will depend on your company, its size and the type of GC you’re looking for. For example, a General Counsel at a startup is likely to be more dynamic and a generalist, as opposed to a heavyweight with deep sector expertise at a large public company.
A successful GC job description will express the day-to-day and long-term impact of the position, while steering clear from tedious detail or empty jargon.
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Creating a simple structure for a General Counsel job description is harder than it sounds, particularly when it comes to in-house roles. Below is a rough guide of how to structure a General Counsel job description - using Juro as a case study (of course).
Your purpose can be as simple as one sentence, for example: ‘To enable the business to grow sustainably by protecting the company from legal risk.’ This gives the candidate a clear idea of your expectations for the role and what the company stands for.
Who are you? What is your company’s mission? These are important things to tell a candidate because it sets you apart from the competition. Attracting high quality candidates means you need to sell yourself.
This should outline concisely and clearly the role and your expectations. To keep it clear, we’d advise splitting this into sections linked to the purpose of the role. For example, at Juro we had three clear expectations of a General Counsel:
This means that responsibilities can be divided up depending on business needs and are more digestible to candidates.
The responsibilities of a GC are incredibly varied. This topic even has its own page on Juro. That said, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the General Counsel role. We recommend using bullet points to keep these points short and sweet.
For instance, if you’ve described one aspect of the role as ‘business enablement’ the responsibilities that relate to this could include:
Use verbs such as own, ensure and advise to give authority and direction to a responsibility. Language matters and the verbs used to describe particular actions. For instance, ‘own’ indicates that this responsibility is autonomous while ‘advise’ indicates a more collaborative aspect of the role.
You can also add caveats here such as ‘+ manage the company’s relationships with external counsel to support the above’ for responsibilities that span across all responsibilities.’
Outline the desired skills and qualifications you feel necessary for this role. At Juro, we call this section ‘This might be for you if…’ alongside an incredibly important disclaimer.
That is: “If you think you have what it takes but don't meet every single point above, please still get in touch. We'd love to have a chat and see if you could be a great fit.”
For your non-negotiables, you guessed it, keep it simple. Bullet points and bold font work well to emphasise your essentials for the role. This could read:
To see a full job description for this role, check out Juro’s very own job description for a General Counsel.
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