General counsel

General counsel

A general counsel is the chief lawyer of a legal department, usually in a corporation or government department. The term is most used in the United States. The status and prominence of the general counsel has grown much over the past 10 years as is evidenced by the large number of lawyers who come into the role from private practice.


United Kingdom


In the United Kingdom a group of general counsel, called the GC100, was officially launched on 9 March 2005 and brings together the senior legal officers of more than eighty five FTSE 100 companies. The GC100 group was created in response to the increasing volume and complexity of domestic and international law and regulation which impacts on UK listed companies. The group was formed with the support of Practical Law Company which acts as its secretariat.[1]

The main objectives of the GC100 are to:

  • Provide a forum for practical and business focused input on key areas of legislative and policy reform common to UK listed companies.
  • Enable members to share best practice in relation to law, risk management, compliance and other areas of common interest.

Membership of the GC100 is by invitation only. At the AGM on the 16 January 2007 members voted in favour of extending membership to company secretaries as well as general counsel in the FTSE 100. The formal name of the GC100 is now "The Association of General Counsel and Company Secretaries of the FTSE100", although it will continue to be known as the GC100.

Mark Harding, the first chair of the GC100 has stated that the GC100 is not a campaigning body, although they work closely with the FD100 (a similar grouping of blue chip finance directors).[2]

United States

The General Counsel Forum

The Forum is an association of more than 500 general counsel and senior managing counsel. The non-profit organization was founded in the fall of 1998 as the Dallas-Fort Worth General Counsel’s Management Practices Forum (“DFWGCMPF”). The association is a partnership between in-house members and outside counsel, known as underwriters. Members are general counsel and managing counsel of corporations, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

The mission of the Forum is to improve the professional lives of general counsel and managing counsel through meaningful opportunities for peer group interaction and knowledge exchange, mentoring through professional development in legal best practices, ethics, governance, and compliance.

In November 2000, the DFWGCMPF changed its name to The Texas General Counsel Forum, known as The Forum, and in the following year the Houston Chapter was formed, and then the Austin-San Antonio Chapter was founded. In July 2005, the Forum hired a Chief Executive Officer with the mandate to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization, expand membership, and launch the organization nationally. In November 2009, the Board of Directors approved expanding the Forum nationally, and dropped the reference to Texas, becoming simply The General Counsel Forum.

In September 2010, the General Counsel Forum founded the Atlanta Chapter, the Forum's first chapter outside of Texas.

Silicon Valley Association of General Counsel

The Silicon Valley Association of General Counsel (SVAGC) is a business league of chief legal officers from over 125 companies in the technology and life science sectors. Member-companies include publicly traded corporations and multinational subsidiaries located throughout the San Francisco Bay Area with operations in software, electronics, power technology, biotechnology, medical devices, health informatics, materials science, cleantech, communications, networking infrastructure, e-commerce and Internet services.

The organization hosts a series of monthly luncheons featuring expert presentations on topics of professional interest. It also assists members who wish to survey their peers or pose questions on particular issues, and cooperates in special projects such as the All Hands Meeting, an annual multi-track conference designed for general counsel, staff counsel and other professionals from hundreds of legal departments in the technology and life science sectors.

The SVAGC is a successor to the Peninsula Association of General Counsel (PAGC), formed in the early 1980s. In 2003, the SVAGC was formally organized as a California mutual benefit nonprofit corporation with the assistance of Ivy Associates, a consultancy to the Silicon Valley legal community that provides organizational support for the SVAGC and produces the All Hands Meeting. Only SVAGC members, speakers and invited guests may attend monthly luncheons, which are fully funded by membership dues and are not sponsored by law firms or companies providing legal products and services. Individuals may join the SVAGC when they are the chief legal officer of a publicly traded corporation or a private company meeting a revenue threshold.

See also


External links

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