General counselors work in the business world as the main legal advisers for their respective companies. If a company specializes in a particular type of industry, such as manufacturing, their general counsel will likely be a specialist or have prior experience in the types of law that may be especially applicable to that company. For instance, an insurance company may want to hire a general counsel who is already experienced with insurance fraud law.
General counselors may handle a variety of different legal matters including copyright management and infringement, claims against the company or providing advice on the legal recourse or ramifications from a particular course of action. A large amount of the time, a general counsel attorney will be spending their time with the board of directors or executives of a company because it is to these individuals with whom the general counsel directly works.
Since general counselors carry a great deal of legal burden, there are a large number of requirements to become a general counsel. First and foremost, a degree from a nationally certified law school is absolutely necessary. In addition, most companies ask/require that their general counsel have previous experience representing clients for a number of years based on the size and prestige of the organization. As with many legal positions, most general counselors work Monday through Friday, but they can have very long hours outside of the usual 9-5 time slot depending on their job requirements.
General Counsel Tasks
- Provide legal advice on legal and regulatory issues and federal and state laws and regulations.
- Represent client or corporation in negotiations with accounts and regulators.
- Draft, review and negotiate contracts.
- Assist with possible mergers, acquisitions and formation of business entities.