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| 1 minute read

From Clients to Colleagues: Further Thoughts from a GC Perspective

My teammate, Michael Melfi, recently drafted a post titled From Clients to Colleagues: The Impact of Strong Relationships in Professional Services that references Dale Carnegie’s book "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

The post resonated with me because the concepts discussed by Michael are the soft skills needed to be an effective general counsel, especially when you are a fractional GC. In particular, a fractional GC needs to:

  • Communicate effectively - Many of our clients are business professionals rather than lawyers, so we need to speak and write like our clients, which means getting to the point—fast. And even when our clients are lawyers, their audience consists of business professionals.
  • Build rapport – Having a seat of table means nothing if it is perfunctory. A truly effective GC is an embedded team member and works hard to earn a place on the team.
  • Be a good listener – This is critical to being a good GC. We have to hear what is being said and, in many cases, what is not being said. It is understanding the nuances of the situation that leads to solid advice and solutions.
  • Offer solutions – The business side of the organization tends to want to avoid the lawyers because candidly lawyers tend to tell them no. The personal brand of any GC should be to be viewed as a problem solver. Yes, we need to outline the risks and challenges involved; however, we should also provide means to overcome those risks and challenges.

Being a fractional GC is more than just being technically competent. It is also about the soft skills that lead to an exceptional experience turning clients and fractional GCs into colleagues.