The Chief Legal Officer is the head of the corporate legal department and is responsible for the legal affairs of the entire corporation. This role includes providing legal counsel to the board of directors, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and other senior management. CLOs must possess strong initiative, as well as excellent management and leadership skills, and strong business acumen. A Juris Doctor (JD) and an applicable state license to practice law are required. The level of experience required for the position may vary, depending on company size.

       

      Chief Legal Officer Responsibilities

      • Developing and leading corporate legal strategy to promote and protect the company’s matters
      • Developing and leading internal audit and corporate compliance programs
      • Overseeing the delivery of legal services and resources to accomplish corporate goals, strategies, and priorities
      • Maintaining proper corporate interactions with the relevant local, state and federal governmental bodies, legislatures and the community at large
      • Advising the CEO and other senior corporate officers on a variety of issues
      • Participating in the formulation of general management policy as a member of the executive management team
      • Managing a team of corporate counsel and other members of the legal department

       

      Hiring a Chief Legal Officer: Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities 

      • Ability to develop and deliver presentations.
      • Demonstrated ability to successfully manage a large corporate or centralized institutional legal office.
      • Skill in budget preparation and fiscal management.
      • Ability to provide competent legal advice and counsel to senior university officials on a wide range of legal and policy issues.
      • Knowledge of the range of applicable laws and regulations which impact on all facets of university policy and operations.
      • Ability to analyze and interpret issues and to prepare legal opinions.
      • Ability to communicate and interact with officials at all levels of government.
      • Ability to supervise and train employees, to include organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling work assignments.
      • Knowledge of current and developing legal issues and trends in area of expertise.
      • Ability to supervise and coordinate the work of legal professionals, paraprofessionals, and consultants.
      • Ability to foster a cooperative work environment.
      • Knowledge of the principles and procedures of legal research.
      • Employee development and performance management skills.
      • Negotiating skills.
      • Knowledge and understanding of institutional policies and procedures and the regulatory environment within which they operate.
      • Knowledge of contract law.
      • Knowledge of financial/business analysis techniques.
      • Knowledge of the judicial system and procedures.
      • Knowledge of legal documentation procedures and requirements.
      • Ability to develop and implement legal strategies and solutions.
      • Knowledge of community legal resources.
      • Knowledge of faculty and/or staff hiring procedures.

       

      Minimum Chief Legal Officer Job Requirements

      • J.D. from an American Bar Association accredited law school; at least 10 years of experience directly related to the duties and responsibilities specified. Member of the State Bar, or member in good standing of the State Bar of another state or District of Columbia.
      • Completed degree(s) from an accredited institution that are above the minimum education requirement may be substituted for experience on a year for year basis.

      Cowen Partners is the nation’s executive search firm, enabling companies to harness the power of human capital to fuel their success. With top-rated CLO recruiters, Cowen Partners gives our clients access to the top 1% of human capital to create opportunities that accelerate their growth and market share. With Cowen Partners, clients can grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world class talent.

      5 Important Questions to Ask When Recruiting General Counsel

      5 Important Questions to Ask When Recruiting General Counsel

      The general counsel position is a major part of the executive leadership team. You need someone who displays great leadership skills, sound judgment, and a strong sense of ethics. Finding a candidate who meets all of these expectations as well as your business needs can be difficult. Before sitting down for an interview, you need to consider what skill set and competencies your company needs in a general counsel. For instance, if your company is expecting to start handling acquisitions, then someone with a corporate law background may be beneficial.

      To get you started, below are five assessment questions you should be asking a general counsel candidate no matter the scope of the position.

      1. How much work would you assign to outside counsel?

      Hiring outside counsel is expensive. By asking candidates this question, you can understand how the criteria a candidate uses to determine when to use inside attorney staff and when to hire outside help. It’s also helpful to know how a candidate determines which law firm to hire when seeking outside counsel.

      You want to look for three main points in a candidate’s answer to this question.

      1. Experience with outside counsel
      2. Awareness of legal budgets
      3. Knowledge of local law firms

      2. How do you control costs within the law department?

      The right candidate for the job will have the practical experience and a few recommendations for reducing spending in the law department. A candidate should be suggesting ideas such as relying on in-house legal services as well as utilizing smaller, more affordable, firms when seeking outside counsel.

      You need someone who understands budget limitations and comes with creative ways to overcome monetary constraints.

      3. What are the three biggest legal challenges you’ve ever faced in business?

      Listen to how the candidate solved the problems as well as the overall outcome of the situation. Did the candidate work with stakeholders to develop a strategy? Did the candidate research unfamiliar topics?

      The answer to this question will show you how each candidate will handle potential issues that arise at your company.

      This question will also help you compare answers between candidates. What one person saw as challenging might be a normal business day for another candidate. The complexity of each challenge will show you the types of problems the candidates have experience handling so far.

      4. Describe a situation that presented a significant risk to the organization. How did you deal with it?

      It’s really important to understand a candidate’s risk tolerance and risk management. The right candidate will be able to demonstrate what was learned from a risky situation as well as explain how it was handled. If it didn’t go well, then this is an opportunity for the candidate to explain how it would be done better in the future.

      Managing risk isn’t always easy and you need someone who can bounce back after an error and do better in the future.

      5. What interactions have you had with regulators as well as your executive team?

      The general counsel interacts with a number of different people, but regulators and the executive team are two important groups you need to ask about. You want a candidate who has experience working with regulators and who has an organization system in place for maintaining documents.

      Since the general counsel will be working alongside your executive team, you want to know how well candidates are currently working with their teams. High-level responsibilities and an expanded role outside of the legal department are two strong signs that a candidate has earned the trust of their executive team.

      Including these five questions in your interview will give you a solid understanding of each candidate’s key competencies. The general counsel is a crucial member of your executive team, so understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate is essential to your business.

      If you want to learn more about our executive search services, check out our industry-leading resources and see why Cowen Partners is a 5-star retained executive search firm serving clients in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Portland, Los Angeles, and beyond:

      Cowen Partners Executive search provides recruitment services to all major and minor industries including:

      Accounting, Advertising, Aerospace & Defense, Biotechnology, Banking, Board and CEO Services, Computer Hardware, Construction, Consulting, Consumer Products, Computer Software and Hardware, Education, Energy & Utilities, Entertainment & Sports, Finance, Financial Services, Food Products, Government, Human Resources, Health Care, Hospitality & Tourism, Insurance, Industrial, Internet & New Media, Legal, Journalism & Publishing, Marketing, Manufacturing, Medical Device, Non-Profit, Pharmaceutical, Real Estate, Retail & Apparel, Sales, Technology, Telecommunications and Transportation.

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