In the first six years of the 21st century, we have seen many changes that have resulted in greater corporate scrutiny--SOX, tighter SEC reporting and disclosure requirements and increased criminal and civil penalties for inappropriate corporate activity. In response, general counsel of publicly held companies are working more diligently with their CEOs and business partners to avoid these minefields. Notwithstanding these perceived obstacles, general counsel also are working more than ever on the business side to increase shareholder value while protecting their organizational reputations.
These changes require GCs to possess skills that enable them to handle a growing range of executive responsibilities that are vital to ensuring the company's success.
The list of skills I have outlined here is not exhaustive. However, each skill is essential to the role of the GC in the modern business environment, in which corporations are under intensified scrutiny. Indeed, corporate reforms have dictated a new type of GC--a facile, nimble, flexible and proactive individual who has the capacity to work across multidisciplinary functions and serve as a strategic business partner.