Experienced US in-house counsel less likely to aspire to be their current company’s GC, study finds

Those who identified as Black or Asian were also unlikely to aim for the position

Experienced US in-house counsel less likely to aspire to be their current company’s GC, study finds

US in-house counsel with more experience are less likely to aspire to be their current company’s GC, a study conducted by executive search firm BarkerGilmore has found.

“With half of counsel aspiring to become a general counsel at their current company and half aspiring elsewhere, it was interesting to see that the more experience counsel had the less likely they were to aspire at their current company,” said Bob Barker, BarkerGilmore founding partner.

The results of an online survey conducted with a random sample of in-house counsel in the US in July revealed that just 49% of respondents aimed to be GC at their current company. Those with more experience based on their JD year were less likely to aspire to the position than those with less, the study said.

A total of 38% of aspiring respondents earned their JD in the 1990-1999 period, while 36% earned theirs from 2000-2005.

The study also found that respondents currently serving as deputy GC comprised the majority of aspiring GCs at 29%, followed those acting as senior counsel (20%) and associate GC (17%). Over half (54%) of the respondents aiming for the role were male, with 46% of aspiring respondents being female.

A total of 28% of respondents indicated that they had been marked by their organisation’s management as potential GC successors; however, 45% said that they were uncertain with regard to their status as successor. Moreover, the study revealed that 50% of male respondents were likely to report being identified as a GC successor, while only 43% of female respondents found this to be case.

Moreover 48% of respondents said that the successor status prevented them from acting on external opportunities, with women being more likely to report this effect (55%) than men were (42%). Race also seemed to play into a counsel’s likelihood to aim for the GC role in their organisation.

“Those that identify as ‘Asian or Asian American’ or ‘Black or African American’ were the least likely race identifications to report aspiring to become general counsel at their current company,” BarkerGilmore said.

In terms of professional development, 55% of the respondents aspiring to be GCs reported that their scope of responsibilities was widened. Meanwhile, 42% were given leadership training, while 39% were exposed to the board. Finally 36% were provided with stretch assignments.

The findings were presented as part of BarkerGilmore’s recent 2020 Aspiring General Counsel Report.

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