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12 General Counsel Skills: Definition and Examples

The role of a general counsel is constantly evolving, and the skills required to be successful in the role are changing as well. Here are 12 skills that every general counsel should possess, with definitions to help you understand what each one entails.

General Counsel Resume Example
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General Counsel Skills

Contract law

Contract law is the body of law that governs the formation, performance, and enforcement of contracts. It is important for general counsel to be familiar with contract law because they may be called upon to advise their clients on the formation and performance of contracts, as well as to draft and negotiate contracts on behalf of their clients. Additionally, general counsel may need to enforce contracts if there is a breach, or resolve contract disputes through negotiation or arbitration.

Corporate law

Corporate law is the area of law that governs the formation and operation of corporations. This includes such things as incorporation, shareholder rights, and corporate governance. Corporate law is important for any business that wants to incorporate, as it sets out the rules and regulations for doing so. It is also important for businesses to understand their rights and responsibilities under corporate law, in order to avoid legal problems down the road.

Securities law

Securities law is a set of laws that govern the issuance, trading, and regulation of securities. These laws are designed to protect investors from fraud and to ensure that markets function efficiently and fairly. General counsel need to be familiar with securities law in order to advise their clients on compliance issues, to handle any litigation that may arise, and to negotiate transactions involving securities.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property is a type of property that includes intangible creations of the human mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols. Intellectual property is protected by patents, copyrights, trademarks, and other forms of legal recognition.

You need this skill because intellectual property is an important part of many businesses. It can be used to create products, to protect ideas and inventions, and to generate revenue.


The ability to effectively manage and understand taxation is an important skill for any General Counsel. This is because tax law can have a significant impact on the financial affairs of a company, and the General Counsel is responsible for advising the company on all legal matters. A good understanding of taxation can help the General Counsel to negotiate better deals with the government, and to minimise the tax liability of the company.

Employment law

Employment law is the area of law that covers the rights and obligations of employers and employees. It includes laws governing hiring, firing, wages, hours, and working conditions.

As a general counsel, you need to be familiar with employment law so that you can advise your clients on compliance with the law and represent them in disputes.

Banking law

Banking law is the body of laws and regulations that govern the activities of banks and other financial institutions. Banking law covers a wide range of topics, including bank regulation, deposit insurance, lending, and credit. Understanding banking law is essential for anyone who wants to work in the financial sector.

Environmental law

Environmental law is a branch of law that deals with the protection of the environment. It covers a wide range of topics, including air and water pollution, waste management, and environmental conservation.

International law

International law is the set of rules that govern interactions between countries. It is important for General Counsel to be familiar with international law because their company may do business with foreign entities, or they may need to resolve disputes that arise from international transactions. Additionally, General Counsel may need to provide advice on compliance with international regulations.

Real estate law

Real estate law is the area of law that deals with the ownership, use, and development of land and property. As a general counsel, you need to be familiar with real estate law in order to advise your clients on matters related to their land and property.

Trusts and estates

A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person (the trustee) holds property on behalf of another person (the beneficiary). Trusts can be used for a variety of purposes, including asset protection, estate planning, and tax planning.

As a general counsel, you may need to draft or review trust documents, advise clients on the creation of trusts, and represent trustees and beneficiaries in litigation. You should also be familiar with the tax implications of trusts.


Litigation is a process whereby two parties in a dispute present their respective cases to a neutral third party, typically a judge or jury, who then decides which party is in the right. This process can be used to resolve disputes of all kinds, from small personal matters to large commercial disputes.

As a general counsel, you need to be skilled in litigation because it may be necessary to resolve disputes that arise within your company or between your company and another party. If you are not skilled in litigation, you may end up costing your company time and money by losing cases that could have been easily won.

How to improve general counsel skills

The role of general counsel has evolved significantly in recent years, and the skills required to be successful in this role have changed along with it. In order to be successful as a general counsel today, it is necessary to have a broad range of skills and knowledge. Here are some tips on how to improve your skills as a general counsel:

1. Stay up to date on legal developments: The law is constantly changing, and it is important to stay abreast of new developments in order to effectively advise clients. One way to stay up to date is to read legal publications and attend CLE courses.

2. Develop strong research skills: In-depth research is often required in order to provide effective legal advice. General counsel should develop strong research skills in order to be able to quickly and efficiently find the information they need.

3. Be an effective communicator: General counsel must be able to effectively communicate with clients, colleagues, and opposing counsel. This includes being able to clearly explain complex legal concepts and write persuasive legal briefs.

4. Be proactive: General counsel should always be thinking ahead and anticipating potential legal issues that their clients may face. By being proactive, general counsel can help clients avoid costly litigation or other problems down the road.

5. Be a strategic thinker: In addition to being proactive, general counsel must also be able to think strategically about the best way to resolve legal issues. This includes considering the long-term consequences of different courses of action and weighing the risks and benefits of each option.

How to highlight general counsel skills

As a General Counsel, you will want to highlight your skills in research, writing, and analysis. You should also highlight your ability to work with clients and other attorneys. Additionally, you should be able to demonstrate your organizational skills and your ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

On a resume

To highlight your skills as a General Counsel on a resume, you should list your experience in the field, as well as your education and any relevant certifications. You should also highlight your ability to handle complex legal issues, negotiate contracts, and manage risk.

In a cover letter

In your cover letter, be sure to highlight your skills as a General Counsel. Include your experience researching and writing legal opinions, as well as your experience managing a team of lawyers. Emphasize your ability to handle complex legal issues and negotiate settlements. Be sure to mention your excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your ability to work well under pressure.

During an interview

As a General Counsel, you will want to highlight your skills in communication, negotiation, and legal research. You should be able to demonstrate your ability to effectively communicate with clients, attorneys, and other professionals. You should also be able to show that you are able to negotiate on behalf of your clients. Additionally, you should be able to show that you have strong legal research skills.