We have distilled the key themes from our General Counsel Governance events last week. The six director speakers referred to the following as their expectations of senior in-house counsel: 

  • Speak your mind 

  • Provide quality timely advice that is well founded and considered 

  • Display professionalism and impartiality 

  • Have a good deep knowledge of your business 

  • Don’t pretend to be the expert in everything – know when to go away and seek advice 

  • Give free, frank and fearless advice 

  • Steer away from high regularity/low complexity work 

  • Be dispassionate and ensure your advice is arm’s length 

  • Be tough but accept decisions of leadership and Board and faithfully execute. 

  • Build trust and rise above the internal politics 

  • Nail the mechanics of governance 

  • Run good internal meetings and try to limit them to 30 minutes 

  • Write concisely 

  • Build a special relationship with the Chair 

  • Build your relationship capital with regulators 

  • Facilitate small moments of intimacy throughout the organisation for directors so they see the full story 

  • Step up if the organisation’s moral compass starts to quiver. 

Our very grateful thanks to Sir Maarten Wevers, Sophie Haslem, Sonya Williams, Susan Peterson, Rob McDonald and Pip Greenwood for sharing their time and their wisdom with our audience of 80 general counsel across Auckland and Wellington.