Sept. 15, 2020
In an article for the Association of Corporate Counsel’s (ACC) Docket, Brian Maciak, executive vice president, general counsel, secretary, and chief compliance officer at TBC Corporation, and Daniel S. Sanders, Jr., partner at Nelson Mullins, share their experiences as general counsel to help others demonstrate value to the C-suite and increase investment in their legal teams. The article offers nine ways general counsel can stand out.
Maciak and Sanders write, “Demonstrating value has always been important, but it will be even more so as businesses and their top lawyers grapple with the challenges and opportunities presented in an increasingly complex and evolving global environment.”
They encourage general counsel to keep their heads up and focused on where the business is headed and to say “no” 99% less frequently. Rather, the authors suggest balancing a strong constitution with an open mind. “More realistic,” they write, “are the situations where a leader wants to do something nuanced and closer to a line. It is easy here for a lawyer to see a risk and say no. But the best lawyers will find a way to say yes, and at the same time address the risk by proposing a slightly different route to the destination.”
However, if and when things do inevitably go wrong, Maciak and Sanders note that the most successful lawyers not only act as firefighters, running to the problem, but also walk upstream to identify root causes and find solutions rather than treating symptoms, which oftentimes leaves companies more vulnerable. This resilience and dedication will not go unnoticed.
Of course, a little advertising never hurts too. The authors remind general counsel to share their good news and suggest, “Periodically (but no more than quarterly), ask your team members to share what they did for the benefit of the business. As the general counsel, pare down the list and share the ‘glory memo’ with the executive team, making sure to tie it to business objectives and give particular praise to key contributors (legal and nonlegal alike).”
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