The Path to GC: Three Strategies for Succeeding as a Growth Company GC

The LegalOn Team
August 7, 2023

More and more attorneys are going in-house at technology and high-growth companies. Fast-paced and deeply collaborative, these roles offer the opportunity to be a strategic business partner. A departure from the pressure of the billable hour model, General Counsel positions give lawyers more flexibility with their time and their approach to legal practice.

How do you transition to a General Counsel role? And once you are in the seat, what is the right mindset and tech stack for success?

These questions don’t have easy answers, and to that end, LegalOn Technologies hosted a webinar on August 2 on ‘The Path to GC: Tips to Land and Lead at a Growth Company.’ Robert Gonzalez, General Counsel at Mercury, Cathleen Hartge, General Counsel at Runway, and Kasey Johnson, Chief Legal Officer and Chief People Officer at Ancora, shared tips, tricks, and tools for lawyers looking to go in-house with Corey Longhurst, Head of Growth at LegalOn. 

Watch the on-demand recording here to tune-in to a wide-ranging discussion on the strategies for and motivations behind making the jump from private practice to in-house, and key competencies to succeed as a GC. 

Use and Leverage Your Network and Beyond for Roles That May or May Not Exist 

GC roles aren’t easy to come by, and sometimes you may need to create them for yourself. In this endeavor, everyone – from your law school classmates to your clients – should be a resource. One of your law school classmates may have just taken a job at a new firm where their client is hiring a General Counsel – could that be you? Or is one of your clients looking to manage more work in-house? Could you be the person who builds a new function to manage their legal work internally – from discovery to contract review?  

Even if you don’t have a big network, never hesitate to reach out to potential opportunities on LinkedIn if you sense an area for collaboration. As Robert Gonzalez mentioned, “I know GCs who have landed fantastic jobs at companies that are on the path to IPO because they saw a company that just raised a Series A round but doesn’t look like it has a lawyer yet. So they thought about the legal problems they may face, and sent the Founder a cold message on LinkedIn.” 

Think Like a Business Person 

One of the key differences between law firms and in-house teams is not the billable hour, but the need to work as a business strategist and cross-functional partner. The goal of the GC is not limited to serving as a lawyer for their company, but as a resource who enables their company in its mission while remaining focused on governance, compliance, risk, and contractual obligations. Therefore, GCs at younger companies need a growth and business-focused mindset as much as their legal acumen. 

As you look for roles and interview with companies, think about the skills and value you’ll bring to your company outside of running the legal function. Your future company would greatly benefit from your perspective on a wide range of projects – from branding and marketing to overall company strategy. Let your future colleagues know about your ideas as you talk to them. 

“I always saw myself as a business person with a JD, as a strategist who uses a JD to inform decisions.” -- Kasey Johnson. 

Succeeding as a GC – Build a Technology Stack to Enable You For Success 

In-house teams are busier than ever. In today's fast-paced and complex business environment, they face growing demands in transactional, compliance, and regulatory work, coupled with rising law firm rates. The pressure to handle more work internally on tighter budgets is escalating. 

Additionally, business partners want their contracts reviewed quickly, putting further pressure on in-house teams to support the business on tight deadlines.

Technology can therefore become a vital ally, acting as a force multiplier by assisting in and streamlining routine tasks. GCs therefore need to be aware of the technology solutions that will enable them to build and operate successful legal departments, operations, and processes. As Cathleen Hartge put it, “In some tasks, technology will be better than humans. Find those workflows and automate them.” 

“In some tasks, technology will be better than humans. Find those workflows and automate them.” -- Cathleen Hartge.

Moving in-house means that your legal team isn’t a center of revenue, but is a center of cost to your company. Capitalize on technology to reduce those costs so you can free up your resources and time to focus on higher value work that matters.

If you’re interested in learning more about how LegalOn’s AI can help save time and resources on contract review, please reach out. We’d love to help!

About LegalOn
LegalOn Technologies is a global leader in AI contract review, trusted by over 4,500 companies and firms worldwide. Our software helps legal teams find and fix contract risks with industry-leading AI and legal guidance content purpose-built for pre-signature contract review. LegalOn operates globally with businesses in Japan and the United States. Sign up for a demo today and start negotiating stronger contracts faster.

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