General Counsel

The evolving role of the General Counsel is more important now than ever before. No longer simply the chief legal officer of the company, the General Counsel is often responsible for corporate governance and compliance, taking their place as a key member of the executive management team. The complexities of the GC’s role, as both trusted strategic advisor to the main board and as the custodian of non-financial risk, mean that their profile and responsibilities are greater than ever. As a trusted advisor, the General Counsel needs to balance commercial imperatives and the conscience of the business.

The General Counsel/Legal Practice at Norman Broadbent focuses on high level leadership roles across sectors and specialises in appointing General Counsel, Company Secretarial, lead Risk and Compliance roles at Group, Divisional or Regional level. Our experienced and high performing team is regarded as a trusted advisor to boards, senior leaders and legal professionals. With a deep understanding of this highly specialised space, we provide an exceptional level of insight, advice and unrivalled access to senior legal leaders and talent. Working closely with sector specialist colleagues we are able to blend deep sector knowledge and strong functional expertise.

Meeting the needs of clients’ businesses, we have a track record in finding senior talent which add value in a broader context than just the legal function. In particular, we have a reputation for hiring senior leaders with a breadth of commercial acumen, strategic leadership and a proactive and pragmatic contribution to the Executive Committee.

Our experience reflects the evolution of the General Counsel and other senior roles in-house and the demands of an increasingly complex, regulated and litigious world.

With a successful track record of working with FTSE100 and FTSE250 companies, private companies, UK entities of overseas businesses and private equity backed businesses our areas of expertise include:

• Group General Counsel
• Risk and Compliance Director
• Specialist Counsel (eg Litigation, M&A etc.)
• General Counsel and Company Secretary
• Group Company Secretary
• Deputy Company Secretary
• Legal Director/Head of Legal
• Head of Risk
• Head of Compliance

Case Studies

Group General Counsel – large FTSE 100 financial institution
With extensive experience of financial services since the financial crisis we are very conscious of the changing regulatory regime for banks in the UK. Our client briefed us to find a new General Counsel to replace a retiring GC. The principal target market and subsequent shortlist consisted of leading GCs either at Group level or (large) Divisional or Regional GCs, we searched more broadly to include a candidate different to the others in having a principally regulatory legal background. The traditional candidates all had experience that was very relevant in terms of scale, leadership, Board gravitas and interface, as well as fitting the requirement of wise counsel and trusted adviser. Given the challenges facing banks, constant regulatory change and interventions at the time, the Board appointed the candidate with the regulatory background as it addressed the most immediate needs and pressures the business faced. The role retained the overall leadership of the function, but was restructured in order to promote a Deputy who would manage the team and take control of the operational aspects.

General Counsel – Head Office GC of FTSE 100 bank
A search for a commercial and dynamic General Counsel with a corporate background to lead on matters in Group: a team of over 60 lawyers supporting the Group’s very broad executive functions, including financial reporting, listing obligations, M&A and corporate development, IT and group operations, treasury and property. There was small portfolio of candidates within UK financial services at the right level with the appropriate breadth of experience and so we extended the search globally to find talent who could be internationally mobile. The appointed GC relocated from overseas and had broad experience across governance and corporate issues, litigation and technology in financial services.

General Counsel and Company Secretary – strategic outsourcing and services business
Upper FTSE 250 business which needed to appoint a General Counsel and Company Secretary. The business had grown rapidly both organically and through acquisition and needed an impactful GC to help them through the next stage of growth and development. The GC would need to balance the demands of a very a dynamic and challenging CEO, with the governance in and around the Board. Whilst the appointed GC had not been a plc CoSec, he had extensive governance (and best practice) experience in the UK and US. A key factor was culture fit and stakeholder management skills, balancing between the Executives and NEDs.

Group Company Secretary – FTSE 250 commercial vehicle rental business
A challenging brief to replace a retiring Company Secretary with many years’ service in the business. It was always going to be difficult to fine one that would fit culturally as well as meeting all the expectations of the Board and Executives given the predecessor’s tenure. There was however, an appetite to embrace something new – the modern incarnation of the Company Secretary. The appointed candidate was geographically mobile (a necessity), and the very embodiment of what a commercial and proactive modern company secretary is today.

Contact us

If you would like to hear more about our experience and how we may be able to help your business, please contact Vijesh Patel for an initial confidential discussion

Vijesh Patel
Norman Broadbent Solutions