Survey respondents said understanding the business was necessary to being able to anticipate problems. Pure legal decision making and just managing a legal process is not going to cut it anymore, said one general counsel. We really need to understand the context because we have an increasingly important role in protecting the companys reputation.
Another interviewee said GCs not only have to understand the business, but be able to talk to business leaders in ways the leaders can understand:
Have good future and peripheral vision in terms of recognizing what risks and opportunities are out there and then be able to translate those from legal language and ways of thinking into crisp, business language that colleagues who are not lawyers can readily understand and make use of. Also having really good business judgment; knowing the business well and having your finger on the pulse of where the company is at, in terms of its risk tolerance, its own commercial objectives.
Respondents emphasized that they need to collaborate with other departments in order to do their jobs well.
GCs indicated that to address the risks they face, they need to develop close working relationships with other parts of the organization, the study found. The top two areas cited were Finance (61 percent of respondents) and Internal Audit (59 percent). Sales and Marketing was a close third (55 percent).