13 Skills Successful Lawyers Put On their LinkedIn profiles

Here’s how you can successfully get a top GC role

If you’re looking for a new role, LinkedIn is a good place to find a dream job. At least 500 million people use the network, accessing more than 10 million active job listings.

There are more than 113,000 general counsel listed on the professional social network, and 67 percent of in-house counsel check the platform actively.

LawGeex and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) in a major new report analyzed 34,0000 top US general counsel profiles on the social network to find out the skills that they list.

Here are the skills that made the grade.

1. Management 

Management is the top pick, with 53 percent of GCs selecting this skill to present to colleagues and recruiters. Many GCs believe that core to their success is the team they lead, people-skills, and relationships. Alan Tse, GC at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “So much of what I do nowadays is leading a team of folks who do the real work.” He describes the core GC skill as the “ability to motivate, to assign the right paths to the right people, and to inspire them so we can all be pointed in the right direction.” Lane Wilson, SVP and general counsel at energy firm Williams, says the key skill for a GC is to teach “people how to think beyond the specific legal issues that you have before you, and how it is going to impact both your team members and the company as a whole.”

2. Litigation 

Litigation is cited as a skill by 47 percent of GCs on LinkedIn. Sterling Miller, General Counsel of marketing automation leader, Marketo, says: “It’s hard to recall a more disconcerting feeling than getting a copy of a lawsuit filed against your company. If you have no experience with litigation, this can be a panic-inducing moment. And no matter how experienced you are handling litigation, your stomach will start to flutter as you read through the allegations.” He provides a full list of the skills an in-house counsel need to tackle litigation in this blog post.

3. Corporate Law 

Underlining the need for skills in corporate law (cited by 41% of general counsel), specialist legal recruitment consultant, recruitment consultancy Robert Half, points out that “regulatory demands are spurring corporate legal departments to go head-to-head with law firms for talented legal professionals, particularly those with compliance, corporate transactional and contract administration backgrounds.”

4. Legal Writing 

Skills in legal writing are self-selected by 35% of general counsel. Bryan Garner, president of LawProse, the US-based provider of CLE training in legal writing, editing, and drafting, provides advice on honing these skills. He says: “Throughout your career as a lawyer, you’ll be judged professionally on two main things: your interpersonal skills and your writing.”

5. Mergers and Acquisitions 

2018 is on pace to be a record-breaking year for corporate consolidation, with global M&A deals worth a total of $3.3 trillion. On LinkedIn, 32 percent list M&A as a core skill. Randy Mehrberg former General Counsel at Exelon utilities writes: “The general counsel is essential to a successful transaction. Together, the CEO, CFO, and GC are strategic deal leaders and the brains and heart of the deal. It is important for the GC to work hand-in-glove with the senior leadership team, establish a good working relationship with her counterparts and surround herself with the best possible resources.”

6. Legal Research

Tied with M&A, 32 percent of General Counsel list legal research as a core skill. Legal research is the process of finding an answer to a legal question or checking for legal precedents that can be cited in a brief or at trial.

7. Commercial Litigation 

Commercial litigation is cited as a skill by 29 percent of United States General Counsel. Summing up this skillset are job posts like this one for a commercial litigator at Apple, requiring “3-5 years of major law firm and/or in-house litigation experience, including significant experience in two or more of the following areas of litigation: trademark, copyright, class actions, privacy, antitrust, product liability, and/or general commercial issues.” Stressing the strategic nature required to handle commercial litigation in-house,  the ad goes on to say “you will not be merely monitoring outside counsel. Rather, you will personally be formulating and driving strategy as well as providing counsel to internal clients on a wide range of novel matters.” Most recently, electric car company Tesla appointed seasoned Beltway trial lawyer Dane Butswinkas as their next GC.

8. Corporate Governance

At its most basic, corporate governance, cited as a skill by 26 percent of GCs, is the system by which a corporation is directed and controlled. “An organization’s values are reinforced through its structure and systems,” says ACC President and CEO Veta T. Richardson. “When the general counsel has a seat at the chief executive’s leadership table, it sends a signal to the company’s stakeholders that legality, ethics, compliance, and other legal risk considerations are top priorities of the company.”

9. Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is self-selected by 26 percent as a top GC skill. It is core to many companies, not least in sectors such as technology or healthcare, and the startup space. For instance, Horacio Gutierrez, General Counsel at Spotify, where IP is central, oversees the licensing and publishing operations teams within the legal and business affairs team. For Baxter Healthcare, the IP team is the largest team in the legal department, unsurprisingly with patents and innovation central to their business.

10. Contract negotiation 

Contract negotiation skills are also listed by just over a quarter (26 percent) of GCs on LinkedIn. In the words of Sterling Miller, General Counsel of Marketo: “Contracts are the grease on the skids of most businesses. Consequently, unless you work in a very unusual legal department, one of the most important tasks you deal with as an in-house lawyer is the drafting and negotiation of contracts.” He advises that one simple and powerful way to ensure you can demonstrate contract negotiation skills is the use of contract negotiation “playbooks“(LawGeex offers automation of playbooks as part of its AI solution). Andrew Rosen, senior legal counsel at MX1, adds: “The work of the in-house counsel in contract negotiations does not simply revolve around the negotiation points raised throughout the process, but most importantly involves how we manage the process, and the relationship itself.”

11. Licensing 

Skills in licensing are cited as a core skill by 24 percent of GCs, relied upon by a large number of businesses. There are few faster or more profitable ways to grow your business than by licensing patents, trademarks, copyrights, designs, and other intellectual property to others. According to Entrepreneur, about 90 percent of the $160 million a year in sales at Calvin Klein Inc. comes from licensing the designer’s name to makers of underwear, jeans, and perfume, while IBM attributes $1 billion a year of its corporate sales to licensing.

Lawyers from GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company, helped build a research and development unit into a new business, Galvani Bioelectronics in which its lawyer worked closely with universities and research institutions on collaboration and licensing agreements, according to Antony Braithwaite, the company’s associate general counsel. 
Meanwhile, General counsel and company secretary of Australian based Nine Entertainment Co. Holding Ltd, Rachel Launders says her role includes managing “licensing rights for content to other media companies outside Australia.”

12. Civil litigation 

Civil litigation skills will come in handy for most GCs (with this skill listed by 24 percent of GCs on LinkedIn). One major study of 485 general counsel found that companies are plaintiffs in 18% of civil cases, defendants in 70% of cases, and non-party respondents in 12% of cases. The companies have most commonly litigated contract disputes (indicated by 54%), followed by “employment discrimination,” “personal injury,” “complex commercial,” “product liability,” and “intellectual property” cases. Two-thirds of respondents indicated that discovery was conducted in at least 70% of the company‟s cases.

13 Due Diligence 

Some 21 percent of general counsel list due diligence as a core skill. Legal due diligence is the process of collecting, understanding and assessing all the legal risks associated during an M&A process. During due diligence, the acquirer reviews all the documents pertaining to a target company and sometimes even interviews people associated with it.


Beyond these top 13, “analytical skills” are cited by 15 percent of all GCs in their public profile, while communication skills are listed by nine percent. Social media (cited by three percent of GCs) and blogging (one percent) are also represented.

Interestingly, of the 34,000 general counsel on LinkedIn, not a single GC has listed any of the following skills: operational efficiency, productivity improvement, business efficiency, productivity, operational analysis, team effectiveness, or process efficiency. It is clear that GCs have these skills, but few are highlighting these as a core area of the GC skillset.

Make sure to download the General Counsel Landscape 2019, in partnership with the Association of Corporate Counsel, for further insights.

Check out the full 30-page report for full data, graphics interviews, and analysis on:

  • The Anatomy of a General Counsel
  • The Fortune 500 GC
  • Gender and the GC
  • GC Compensation
  • The GC Reborn: The New Skills of the General Counsel
  • The New Strategic Leader

Download here