One may say that all the above is not enough for Board Membership, and it is not, of course. How about business awareness? Are Corporate Counsels business minded or are they able to take part in strategy discussions?
The same General Counsels have drafted, commented and negotiated several business agreements; purchasing, sale, distribution, licensing, co-operation, etc.. They have been or still are heavily involved in business negotiations and are participating hands on in planning projects.
To all corporate lawyers M&A is familiar territory, some are hands on in drafting the documentation and involved in negotiations. Even if outside counsels are drafting the documentation, the in-house counsels coordinate the project and the negotiations. Finally they prepare the proposals to the Board with the management.
The list of tasks and experiences can be much longer; IPRs, employment matters, incentive programs etc. It is difficult to come up with a role whereby a person would be more involved in so many aspects of a company’s operations.
Last but not the least, General Counsels are very often members in the management team and take part in business discussions and decisions. Often they also take part in planning the corporate strategy. Having spent several years in certain business in management team and as Board secretary the numbers and the cost structure in in the back bone.
According to my view and the general opinion during the discussions at our latest Fondia General Counsel Round Table event, it is easy to say that General Counsels are excellent candidates for Corporate Boards.