How broad is a GC’s remit? Are GCs ready to meet the challenges they face? Over the past few decades, the role of in-house counsel has changed dramatically, with GCs typically sitting at the senior table and participating in the most critical decisions facing companies — whether those decisions are related to pure legal issues or not.
The attached article highlights employers’ shifting views of “back-to-work” plans in light of the persistence of COVID-19 and the delta variant. This is a critical issue that faces every employer and every employee. What I find particularly interesting, though, is what the article says about the role of GCs in the decision-making process. One of the quoted GCs opines that GCs are almost like “chief medical officers” in handling questions around the pandemic. GCs now serve as internet security officers, advisors and spokespersons on public policy, leaders in corporate social responsibility, and the like. Being thrust figuratively into the role of “chief medical officer” is new for the vast majority of GCs. Are GCs being equipped to fulfill their evolving roles? Are GCs properly trained for their expansive responsibilities? Or ultimately are GCs being asked to wear too many hats? While I believe that GCs’ having broad responsibilities is appropriate, the current challenges highlight the breadth and depth of knowledge, as well as experience, necessary to be an effective general counsel.