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Many Guises for a New Breed of Legal Team Leader

Lindsay Fortado FT.com

In football’s Premier League, the delicate negotiations around buying a player can come down to hours or even minutes before the transfer window closes.

When the details of the deal have been hammered out and personal terms agreed, the last step is for the lawyers, who rush to complete the necessary paperwork in time to avoid the multimillion-pound investment collapsing.

In private practice, you advise, but then you hand it over to the client to make the decision

Lee Udelsman, a senior recruiter at Major, Lindsey & Africa, a legal recruitment firm in New York, says top in-house lawyers at a company are becoming important members of the executive team.

“They’re not just responsible for managing [internal and external teams of lawyers], but are expected to be a business partner who is instrumental in contributing with other members of the leadership team,” he says.

The scope of the role has expanded in some cases to include overseeing tasks such as corporate security, lobbying, government affairs, human resources, risk management and sometimes even managing profit and loss for intellectual property, Mr Udelsman says.

As billing rates charged by outside law firms continue to rise, general counsel are becoming more creative in how they spend their budgets, Mr Udelsman says. That includes increased use of both technology and contract lawyers, as well as doing more work in-house.


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