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Expectations of today’s general counsel have expanded and elevated the job. Many global legal chiefs have reached the summit because they possess many of the nonlegal competencies required today. Midlevel in-house counsel who aspire to a legal chief role must develop these competencies. Broad legal knowledge is assumed. It’s far from enough to succeed as a corporate legal executive in 2017.
Two key competencies that showed up in open-ended answers to Global Counsel Leaders Circle 2017 Benchmark (a biannual peer benchmark study) were words not mentioned by any respondents in the 2015 benchmark. These two competencies are: leadership and various words that can be paraphrased as tech-savvy.
Substantive legal abilities are nearly overshadowed by the new competencies. One reason is the primary role the general counsel in larger international companies plays in the protection of reputation. Egon Zehnder lists these core competencies for legal executives: