When hearing the words “talent development,” thoughts may first drift to the job of the Human Resources department. But in reality, talent development is the responsibility of the entire management team and the board of directors—and an area in which general counsel can add significant value.

Companies need to enhance their focus on talent development due to the possible risks that come with hiring and retaining employees. Talent risk is the gap that exists between a company’s hiring philosophy and its actual hiring activity. At a National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) event earlier this year, featured speaker Simon Cooper (former COO and president of Ritz Carlton Hotels) identified three areas that comprise talent risk: Failing to develop in-house talent; losing great talent (particularly to competition); and making the wrong hire. These areas of concern vex the board and challenge management to implement appropriate tools to ensure talent development is happening and the risk of attrition is mitigated. And since one of the general counsel’s main focuses is mitigating risk for the company, the GC is often charged with helping to manage and develop talent—an area  that should not be overlooked, particularly in the legal department.

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