Knowledge Center: Video


LeadershipTV®- The Growing Demand for General Counsel Responsibilities on Boards

8/5/2014 Victoria S. Reese

In a time of increased shareholder activism, regulation and uncertainty, the role of the general counsel in the corporate boardroom has never been more important. Yet, companies have been slow to appoint directors with senior legal expertise. In the second episode of LeadershipTV, Victoria Reese makes the case for senior legal expertise in the Boardroom beyond the presence of a company’s own general counsel.

Companies need directors who are “more than just a lawyer,” Reese says, but “a strategic thinker, a strategic business partner” as well. The firm’s study of general counsels currently sitting on corporate boards found three common characteristics. These directors:

  • Have attained a strategic role as a business partner,
  • Have experience in directing government relations,
  • Have personal experience working with one or more of the sitting board members.

A general counsel is not needed in every board room and not every general counsel is well-suited for a role as a director, Reese says. “However, if you are in a highly regulated industry in a company which has to keep its eye on risk, adding that talent to your board can be a great addition to the team.”