Today’s General Counsel Drive Profit for Companies, Survey Finds

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Today’s General Counsel contribute more expertise to company strategy, management and compliance than ever before, according to a national survey of directors of publicly traded companies.

The survey, conducted by executive recruiting firm BarkerGilmore, NYSE Governance Services and Corporate Board Member found 86 percent of directors said their General Counsel is a member of the executive management team today. Only 56 percent of those respondents said this was the case 10 years ago.

“Gone is the day when the General Counsel was simply managing the legal and regulatory issues,” BarkerGilmore Managing Partner John Gilmore said. “Today’s General Counsel is expected to be that business-savvy leader who is going to contribute to driving the business—an executive who happens to be a lawyer.”

General Counsel are also more frequently serving on boards as independent directors.

“Boards increasingly view having a General Counsel as an independent director favorably,” BarkerGilmore Managing Partner Bob Barker said. “Having a General Counsel as a director brings additional credibility to the board.”

That includes directly contributing to profits by advising the CEO and board on mergers and acquisitions.

General Counsel play a vital role in not only increasing shareholder value, but also in protecting the bottom line through regulatory and compliance efforts. A more regulated business environment and a lack of public trust in corporations have brought these issues to the forefront, making it more important for companies to have a trusted in-house legal advisor leading the way. In fact, 98 percent of directors said their General Counsel plays an important role in compliance and ethics.

Other key findings include:
95% said the General Counsel guides the board to follow governance best practices.
91% of directors said the General Counsel is a trusted adviser to the board.
85% said the General Counsel acts as a trusted adviser to the CEO.
71% of directors said the General Counsel actively contributes to strategy.

The survey included responses from approximately 225 directors serving as chairman, committee chairs or CEOs at publicly traded companies representing a range of market capitalizations in the United States.

Full results of the survey may be downloaded at

About BarkerGilmore LLC

BarkerGilmore combines the international reach and expertise of a large executive recruitment agency with the personal attention and focus of a small one. We specialize in a select range of executive placements, including in-house counsel and compliance roles, to deliver a richly diverse, outstanding slate of candidates for each engagement.

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Robert Barker
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