A General Counsel holds a special position for a business owner in that the right GC can become an integral part of your organization as well as a valued asset and trusted advisor. Conversely, the wrong person or someone who is generally not a good fit in terms of talent as well as vision can add little value or have a negative effect on your employees performance; and may even become an impediment to the success of your business. Prior to engaging an Attorney to be your General Counsel here are some proposed questions:
What do you perceive to be the primary purpose of the General Counsel?
What do you believe to be the fundamental duties of a General Counsel?
What do you consider are some of the main management skills necessary to be a successful General Counsel?
What do you perceive are the greatest challenges to the General Counsel Position?
Describe the work environment or culture in which you are most productive and happy.
Have you had the experience of overseeing numerous and diverse business lines which were not related other than by being part of a parent company or Organization?
Have you ever been General Counsel or Assistant General Counsel in the legal Department of a Holding Company where there are multiple departments with separate Senior Executives or Presidents?
How familiar are you with Corporate Financing and Capitalization Structure?
How familiar are you with Private Loan Funding and Equity Participation?
How familiar are you with overseeing outside legal counsel with public and private offerings of equity and debt securities, securities class action litigation and antitrust counseling and litigation?
How much experience do you have in Bankruptcy practice?- Creditor or Debtor representation or both?
How familiar are you with patent, copywrite, trade practice secret laws and other intellectual property transactions and litigation?
How familiar are you with employee benefit and employment law?
Have you ever attended an employment hearing to determine whether or not an employee should receive unemployment benefits?
How familiar are you with workers compensation law?
Have you any experience in formatting complex legal concepts or conclusions into understandable summaries for clear presentation to company management?
How do you handle strong differences in opinion by staff within the company?
What is the most number of employees (legal or otherwise) that you have been directed to supervise?
Have you ever prepared a policies and procedures manual or an industry compliance manual for a company or department?
How would you organize your day to day activity with various business lines?
Could you operate without an associate and would you be capable of doing your own research-? How do you feel about doing your own research?
Have you ever had primary oversight of outside legal counsel billing?
How can you create the highest efficiencies in outside legal counsel output while minimizing the cost and quality of their assigned work?
How do you become fully involved in a business issue but sufficiently independent to challenge what you believe to be a poor decision?
How would you handle a situation where you believe the action of the company may be illegal?
Are you comfortable in performing legal assignments without questioning the business intent?
What is your strongest area of practice and what is your weakest area of practice?
How familiar are you with commercial litigation and what is the largest and most complicated case where you had primary responsibility?
Do you prefer research, drafting pleadings and briefs or trial advocacy?
How much experience do you have with governmental or regulatory compliance and in what areas?
Have you ever participated in implementing new company procedures to comply with new governmental regulatory rules or laws?
Have you ever been lead Counsel in a trial? How many were jury trials?
Have you participated in complex litigation with numerous parties?
Describe a situation where you successfully handled a complex legal situation?
Do you have a specific procedure or activity to minimize your making mistakes?
What do you do if you have made a mistake?
If you were supervising a trial and one of the jurors told the Judge that the jury had been discussing the case during the trial and that the jury had already made up their mind and the Juror wanted to be excused- would you ask for a mistrial or would you agree to move ahead if the opposing counsel said he would agree?
What do you consider your major achievement in the legal field or as a General Counsel?
What was one of the most difficult negotiation situations in which have you been involved?
by Anthony Palazzo
General Counsel and Attorney at Law