Every organization and governmental agency requires legal counsel to handle legal issues and legal matters. That’s why companies hire general counsels, assistant general counsels, and associate general counsels.
The duties and responsibilities of an associate general counsel usually differ depending on where they work. For example, working as a corporate counsel may be different than working under the United States federal government.
However, on average, an associate general counsel usually works in established organizations and agencies.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look into the roles, duties, and abilities of an associate general counsel.
What Does an Associate General Counsel Do – Typical Roles in Organizations
The associate general counsel provides direct support to management and executives by offering legal advice.
Associate general counsels usually work in the legal department but report to the general counsel or chief legal officer. They work alongside assistant general counsels, attorneys, in-house counsel, and outside counsel. In governmental agencies, they work in the office of general counsel.
In any case, associate general counsels develop corporate governance procedures, recommend legal courses of action, determine risks, and monitor various legal issues. They also work as mediators when liaising with external stakeholders.
Most associate general counsels also have experience and knowledge with administrative tasks. At times, organizations may make an associate general counsel work on management and administrative tasks in the absence of another employee.
As a result, companies usually expect associate general counsel to have the legal knowledge, counseling experience, analytical thinking, administrative experience, professional ethics, and financial acumen (especially in the financial services industry).
In the average organization, most non-legal departments, such as marketing, finance, human resources, engineering, and design departments, have their own associate general counsel. Therefore, you will find several associate general counsel in most companies and governmental agencies.
As an associate general counsel in any department, you have to manage all the legal issues of that particular department while reporting to the deputy general counsel. That means you have to offer legal advice to management, partake in legal research with the legal department, and ensure regulatory compliance of the department you’re working in.
Furthermore, associate general counsels are also expected to have knowledge of various laws, regulations, and rules, such as employment law, intellectual property law, health care rules, and more.
Other roles may include helping in risk management, real estate matters, and more, depending on the company.
What Does an Associate General Counsel Do – Duties and Tasks
Associate general counsels work in different settings in each department and organization. For example, an associate general counsel in the finance department would need to have knowledge of finance laws and regulations.
Similarly, associate general counsels in other departments will have knowledge pertaining to their departments. However, that doesn’t necessarily limit them to one specific department as they’re working along with the legal department at all times.
In any case, the following duties, tasks, and responsibilities are what the typical general counsel has to manage:
- Work under the supervision of the general counsel, deputy general counsel, or chief lawyer.
- Manage the legal secretarial and administrative work.
- Research, analyze, and prepare legal documents to develop effective and accurate contracts.
- Manage, calendar, and monitor various deadlines to legal matters, such as litigations, claims, active cases, or any relevant legal procedures.
- Ensure that the organization’s goals and objectives are achieved according to corporate compliance standards, rules, regulations, and laws.
- Portray legal knowledge by offering legal advice and recommendations during legal investigations.
- Study, analyze, and develop policies and practices pertaining to the organization.
- Develop effective governance procedures for the departments and organizations.
- Liaison with various stakeholders during legal proceedings.
- Advise relevant figures in the organization on complex purchase transactions to avoid legal problems.
- Renew any legal licenses, such as compliance software license agreements.
- Offer advice and recommendations when developing internal policies for the organizations.
- Practice law and litigation involving tort matters, contract disputes, and various other issues.
- Prepare and file any annual updates or proceedings of various statements to ensure regulatory compliance.
The duties, tasks, and responsibilities listed above are what most associate general counsels are expected to do effectively. However, some organizations may add other duties related to the particular department.
What Does an Associate General Counsel Do – Skills and Abilities
Most associate general counsels will have different skills, qualifications, and abilities due to varying experiences. However, the typical job description usually lists down the basic skills and abilities every associate general counsel should have.
On average, the associate general counsel is expected to have the following qualifications, skills, and abilities.
- A bachelor’s degree in law or any related legal field. Bachelor’s degrees in English, economics, philosophy, political science, psychology, history, and arts & humanities can also work.
- You need to register in an accredited law school if you have a non-legal degree. Having a Juris Doctor (JD) degree is the best and highest form of education you can have.
- Pass the State Bar and have good relations with the State Bar Association.
- A minimum of five years of experience while practicing law, working at a law firm, or in any legal position in an organization is required.
- Specialty certifications in business litigation, tax law, international law, and workers’ compensation can help.
- If you have a veteran status as an attorney, you can surpass various checks.
- Excellent analytical skills are needed to accumulate, order, and analyze information from various perspectives to find adequate solutions. The associate general counsel may have to analyze multiple sources of information simultaneously.
- Top-tier communication skills are needed to develop good relations with stakeholders, contractors, and other departments.
- Great interpersonal skills are needed to effectively manage the legal needs of any department.
- Ability to overlook gender identity, national origin, sexual orientation, and other biases are needed to ensure you keep the company an equal opportunity employer.
- Crucial problem-solving skills are needed to evaluate legal issues quickly and accurately while offering expert legal advice.
The skills, qualifications, and abilities listed above are generally what you can expect from an associate general counsel, but they may change according to organizations and departments.
How to Become an Associate General Counsel
According to Glassdoor, the average associate general counsel salaries in the United States can be rounded up to $162,125. The typical range for the full-time average salary is between $95,000 and $246,000, with the higher end being offered in cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
The associate general counsel job title may also double as an assistant general counsel in some cases. Most associate general counsel jobs tend to have multiple titles for maximum reach. As a result, you may get job alerts for assistant general counsel at times.
In any case, the general counsel salary depends a lot on the industry, organization, and the department you’re working in. The overall salary is decided according to your overall experience, law certifications, and standing in the legal community.
You may also find that some companies have lower salaries for associate general counsels. That usually happens when companies have an associate general counsel for each department.
Becoming an associate general counsel isn’t as hard if you’ve been practicing law for a while. You need to get some organizational experience before you can move into an associate general counsel position.
Generally, it’s best to work in the legal department of an organization. If your specialty is financial law, you should consider working in the legal department of a financial services institution.
You should be up to date with the latest laws, rules, and regulations. Furthermore, it’s also best to keep a good relationship with the State Bar Association as organizations may double-check your credentials.
In any case, getting to the associate general counsel position requires excellent law knowledge, years of organizational experience, and outstanding credentials.
Becoming a Great Associate General Counsel
Becoming a great associate general counsel is all about getting as much relevant experience as you can. You can further secure your standing by getting additional law certifications, managing more legal matters, and working with relevant stakeholders.
The more experience you get in various legal settings, the better. For example, if an employee asks for legal advice, you should offer them the same level of advice you would to the CEO. It helps brush up on various laws, rules, and regulations.
You should also actively discuss recommendations and advice with other legal counsel before making a final decision.
Most importantly, a great associate general counsel will always work according to the organization or government agency’s standards first.