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  • A general counsel or chief legal officer is the chief lawyer of a legal department, usually in a company or a governmental department. In a company, the person holding the position typically reports directly to the CEO, and their duties involve overseeing and identifying the legal issues in all departments and their interrelation, including engineering, design, marketing, sales, distribution, credit, finance, human resources, production, as well as corporate governance and business policy. This would naturally require in most cases reporting directly to the owner or CEO overseeing the very business on which the CLO is expected to be familiar with and advise on the most confidential level. This requires the CLO/General Counsel to work closely with each of the other officers, and their departments, to appropriately be aware and advise. Historically, general counsel often handled administrative tasks while outside lawyers in private practice handled more complex legal work. Since the 1980s, however, the general counsel position has become increasingly prominent in multinational companies, often directly advising the board of directors in place of outside lawyers.

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