Five Hiring Tips for General Counsel Attorneys

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By Rakib Sarwar

Hiring Tips for General Counsel Attorneys

Every business organization needs a legal professional to carry out the routine legal tasks that are necessary for the smooth operation of the business. Besides, there could be specific legal issues that might require expert legal advice. An organization may choose to appoint a full-time in house counsel or opt for outside general counsel services to look after the legal aspects of the business.

Some organizations, especially large corporations, have a full-fledged legal department to take care of their legal obligations. In such arrangements, the general counsel attorney is the de facto chief of the legal team and typically reports to the top management.  Apart from ensuring that all routine tasks are accomplished, the role of a general counsel also includes identifying and resolving legal issues in every department. Further, if there is some specific legal matter that requires expert intervention from an experienced outside lawyer from that particular area of law, then it is the responsibility of the general counsel to liaise with outside lawyers and find the right person to represent the company. Also, he/she is responsible for attracting and recruiting the best talent to build a strong legal team, oversee general matters for the company’s best interests and managing costs.

This article tries to offer some tips to general counsel lawyers in hiring the best legal professionals.

Establish a Long-Term Vision for Your Legal Team

First and foremost you need to understand the functioning of the organization and how changes in the business environment may impact it. What roles do business management and non-legal experts play? How the advancement in technology will affect the future plans of the company, does it plan to grow organically, or through mergers and acquisitions? The answers to these questions will help you understand the type of attorneys you would require.

You also need to figure out what legal expertise you would want to develop and nurture internally, taking into account the costs involved as compared to hiring outside experts from law firms. For instance, some companies prefer litigation to be handled by in house counsel, while some others prefer outside or Corporate Law Firm in India to do the job. You also need to factor in the employee attrition rate, both within your department and the organization as a whole, when you do the succession planning in the legal department. Managing legal costs is vital, so you have to weigh the current spend on outside general counsel services against that of hiring additional heads for the internal team. Analyze the present composition of the department to gauge their preparedness to handle current and future responsibilities. You can thus make a long term plan for the legal team and its requirements.

Explicitly Define the Requirements for new Recruitment

Now that you have understood the legal requirements of your organization, you need to set in motion a recruitment strategy. Define and communicate the requirements in no uncertain ways, as communication tends to get incoherent in different ways and places. Your requirements for a new hire must define the following:

  • Details of the position offered
  • Reporting structure
  • Compensation package (basic salary, bonus, stock options, etc.)
  • Retirement savings plans
  • Paid leaves, vacations, flex-time, work-from-home, etc.
  • Relocation program

Be Flexible in Your Approach

There are two common issues that recruiters often have to encounter:

First, when organizations launch their search for a suitable candidate for a particular position, they have in place a complete compensation plan ready for it. However, they soon realize that the package they were offering was well below the market expectation, and they have to revise and adjust to appear more competitive. Crucial time is lost and the best talents might have moved towards better opportunities by then.

Second, the organization might have unrealistic expectations about the available talent in the market, in terms of specialty and experience. For instance, if you are looking for experienced talent in a highly regulated industry, you may not be able to find candidates who exactly fit your requirements. It is here that you have to be a bit flexible and consider experience from other industries or industry experience along with experience in the related area of law.

Doing your homework on the prevailing compensation standards and the availability of requisite legal talent in your geographical market can help you avoid the last-minute adjustments.

Broaden your Legal Network

Having a broad and diversified legal network comes in very handy at the time of recruitment. Your professional contacts help you understand the benchmark compensation levels for different positions and different practice area experience. It also gives insight on how to conduct interviews- group interviews or individual-, tracking methodologies, gathering feedback, and decision-making tools. You also get intelligent advice from experienced people on industry trends and how it could impact your hiring requirements.

Master the Art of Interview

It is generally found that the interview process is not properly organized and structured. You need to create your own interview process that is smooth and organized. It is good for internal as well as external reasons. Candidates are more impressed if the interviewer takes keen interest and takes down notes. If you ask questions that are relevant to the position and the practice area, good candidates would be more inclined to accept the offer.

Mentioned above were a few tips that can help a general counsel attorney in hiring the best legal talent for their organization.




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