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What professional development helps one ascend to GC?

General counsel – both those promoted internally and those recruited externally – appear to benefit from certain professional development experiences as part of their rise to the top of the legal department.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 10 November 2020 Corporate Counsel
What professional development helps one ascend to GC?
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Legal and compliance executive search firm BarkerGilmore has released its 2020 General Counsel Succession Report, which delves into the paths that sitting GCs have taken and the professional development they received along the way. The intent behind the report, the firm said, is to help foster understanding about the pathways to attaining senior in-house legal roles.

Last week, Lawyers Weekly reported that the research found that corporate lawyers who have hired executive coaches for themselves may be more likely to be promoted internally to general counsel.


When it comes to professional development, GCs who have been promoted internally were developed by their business or organisation in a “mix of experiences” prior to their promotions, the firm said.

An expansion of one’s responsibilities (63 per cent) was the most common duty helping one rise up the ladder, followed by increased C-suite and board exposure (53 per cent). Leadership training and stretch assignments were also provided for 39 per cent and 37 per cent of promoted GCs respectively.

Elsewhere, 19 per cent of promoted GCs benefitted from GC shadowing, 16 per cent received mentoring with an executive other than the GC, 15 per cent had executive coaching and 14 per cent had financial training.

Those who have been recruited externally for a GC role, BarkerGilmore continued, received “very similar development opportunities” while still with their previous employers.

“Expanded scope of responsibilities (51 per cent), increased C-suite and board exposure (44 per cent), leadership training (35 per cent) and stretch assignments (29 per cent) were the top-reported development opportunities,” the firm detailed.

Certain recruited GCs were also able to glean benefit from executive coaching (22 per cent), and 15 per cent had mentoring with someone other than the GC, while 11 per cent received financial training and 7 per cent were able to shadow the GC.

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