General Counsel Job Description

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 27 Nov 2019

General Counsel


A General Counsel is the top legal authority in a company, with the core responsibility of providing advice on legal issues affecting the business. Keep reading this General Counsel job description to find out what you can expect from a General Counsel role, as well as the skills required and salary expectations.


  • What is a General Counsel?

    The General Counsel, also known as Corporate Counsel or Chief Legal Officer (CLO), is the highest ranking figure of legal authority within an organisation. The role of a General Counsel is to provide in-house advice on a range of legal matters within the business.

    Although they have no direct supervisor, they typically report to the company CEO as their input is integral to commercial decision-making. In terms of managing workload, General Counsel responsibilities might include supervising and delegating work to other In-House Counsel or Legal Assistants.

    General Counsel are employed by organisations and they are mainly based in offices, but they also attend courthouses for trials or to file documents.

  • What does a General Counsel do?

    The General Counsel is an important leader in any company, with their decisions influencing the whole business. General Counsel roles and responsibilities will vary depending on the organisation and the legal issues it might be facing, but key duties usually include:

    • Providing legal advice
    • Supervising staff
    • Drafting legal documents
    • Managing litigation actions
    • Keeping up to date with changing legislation (particularly in relation to the interests of the organisation)
    • Liaising with those at all levels of the business
    • Attending board meetings and committee meetings

    Other tasks may include dealing with legal compliance matters, managing lease agreements, overseeing due diligence of mergers and acquisitions and travelling to other offices or courthouses.

  • How to become a General Counsel

    To become a General Counsel, you need to be a fully qualified lawyer with a degree from a top university. You should be an expert in both the fields of law and business, with training and experience gained at a leading law firm or in-house department.

    General Counsel jobs are highly competitive, so you will require the right combination of experience and skills to have the best chance of success.

    It is highly recommended that you have in-house experience or come from a commercial law firm background if you are considering moving into a General Counsel role. This is because the role demands a solid understanding of the inner-workings of a business and how legal issues directly affect commercial decision making.

    You will need to demonstrate a substantial understanding of a wide range of matters related to commercial and corporate law. Exposure to transactional and compliance work is usually required, as well as exposure to litigation and employment matters.

  • Key skills of a General Counsel

    Key attributes of a General Counsel are as follows:

    • Broad legal knowledge and expertise
    • Commercial acumen
    • The ability to manage risk effectively
    • The ability to evaluate options and provide sound practical solutions
    • Leadership and management skills
    • Negotiation skills
    • An integral and discretionary approach
    • Strong communication skills with the ability to liaise with those at all levels
    • The ability to provide practical commercial legal advice to stakeholders and non-legal personnel


  • How much does a General Counsel earn?

    According to the 2018 TotallyLegal Audience Insight Report, the average General Counsel salary stands at £111,111 per annum – making it the highest paying legal profession in our survey. If you are a General Counsel working in a major corporation in a prime location such as London, your earning potential could be much higher.

  • General Counsel jobs on TotallyLegal

    TotallyLegal has a range of General Counsel jobs in a variety of organisations in the UK and overseas. Browse and apply for General Counsel vacancies today, or set up a job alert based on your preferences to be notified of the latest roles suited to you.

    Would you like to take part in an interview about your experience as a General Counsel? If so, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch on to find out more.