Cowen Partners Reveals the Top 5 Questions to Ask When Recruiting General Counsel

August 03 21:36 2021

The general counsel (GC) position is a major part of the executive leadership team, says one of the nation’s best general counsel executive search firms, Cowen Partners.

For the general counsel role, it’s critical to have someone who displays great leadership skills, sound judgment, and a strong sense of ethics. Finding a candidate who meets all of these expectations, as well as a business’ needs, can be difficult. No one knows that better than the legal executive recruiters at Cowen Partners.

Before sitting down for an interview, Cowen Partners recommends considering the skill set and competencies companies need in a general counsel.

To help companies get started, here are five assessment questions to ask GC candidates, according to Cowen Partners’ general counsel recruiters:

1. “How Much Work Would You Assign to Outside Counsel?”

2. “How Do You Control Costs within the Law Department?”

3. “What Are the 3 Biggest Legal Challenges You’ve Ever Faced in Business?”

4. Describe a Situation that Presented a Significant Risk to the Organization. How Did You Deal with It?”

5. “What Interactions Have You Had with Regulators & an Executive Team?”

Here’s a look at why each of these questions is integral in any general counsel executive search process.

1. “How Much Work Would You Assign to Outside Counsel?”

Hiring outside counsel is expensive. Asking candidates can reveal how the criteria a candidate uses to determine when to use inside attorney staff and when to hire outside help. It’s also helpful to know how a candidate determines which law firm to hire when seeking outside counsel.

Look for three main points in a candidate’s answer to this question.

1. Experience with outside counsel

2. Awareness of legal budgets

3. Knowledge of local law firms

2. “How Do You Control Costs within The Law Department?”

The right candidate for the job will have practical experience and a few recommendations for reducing spending in the law department. A candidate should be suggesting ideas such as relying on in-house legal services as well as utilizing smaller, more affordable, firms when seeking outside counsel.

A good candidate will understand budget limitations and come up with creative ways to overcome monetary constraints.

3. “What Are the 3 Biggest Legal Challenges You’ve Ever Faced in Business?”

Listen to how the candidate solved the problems as well as the overall outcome of the situation. Did the candidate work with stakeholders to develop a strategy? Did the candidate research unfamiliar topics?

This answer can reveal how each candidate will handle potential issues that arise at a company.

This question will allow for a comparison between the answers from different candidates. What one person saw as challenging might be a normal business day for another candidate. The complexity of each challenge will show the types of problems the candidates have experience handling so far.

4. “Describe a Situation that Presented a Significant Risk to the Organization. How Did You Deal with It?”

It’s really important to understand a candidate’s risk tolerance and risk management. The right candidate will be able to demonstrate what was learned from a risky situation as well as explain how it was handled. If it didn’t go well, then this is an opportunity for the candidate to explain how it would be done better in the future.

Managing risk isn’t always easy. A good general counsel will need to bounce back after an error and do better in the future.

5. “What Interactions Have You Had with Regulators & an Executive Team?”

The general counsel interacts with several different people, but regulators and the executive team are two important groups to ask about. Candidates with regulatory experience will likely have an organization system in place for maintaining documents.

Since the general counsel will be working alongside an executive team, it’s important to understand how well candidates are currently working with their teams. High-level responsibilities and an expanded role outside of the legal department are two strong signs that a candidate has earned the trust of their executive team.

These questions can provide a solid understanding of each candidate’s key competencies, legal executive search firm, Cowen Partners says. The general counsel is a crucial member of an executive team, so understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate is essential to any business.

Cowen Partners | Top General Counsel Executive Search Firm

Cowen Partners has a strong record of identifying and recruiting the top 1% of talent for the role of general counsel and chief legal officer (CLO) for public, private, and non-profit organizations. “Contact us if you would like to discuss recruiting an exceptional GC or CLO.”

As a top legal executive search firm in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond, Cowen Partners is known for excellence in C-suite recruitment and diversity recruiting across all major and minor industries.

This includes (and is not limited to) accounting, advertising, aerospace & defense, biotechnology, banking, board and CEO services, computer hardware, construction, consulting, consumer products, computer software and hardware, education, energy & utilities, entertainment & sports, finance, financial services, food products, government, human resources, health care, hospitality & tourism, insurance, industrial, internet & new media, legal, journalism & publishing, marketing, manufacturing, medical device, non-profit, pharmaceutical, real estate, retail & apparel, sales, technology, telecommunications, and transportation.

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Company Name: Cowen Partners Executive Search
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Country: United States