Small Law Department Compensation Survey Job Descriptions

© 2013 Empsight International, LLC

 

Job Descriptions below are displayed as a progression from a solo practitioner environment to a complex departmental structure.

General Counsel – Single Lawyer Environment

This position is responsible for setting the overall legal strategy of the organization and for providing legal advice and counsel to the Chief Executive Officer, the executive leadership team, the Board and the organization as a whole. This position is a central participant in all substantive negotiations relative to the purchase and sale of business units, mergers and acquisitions, major customer and other contracts, and regulatory and related matters. This position determines the strategic position of the organization relative to litigation and selects, directs and manages outside counsel, where appropriate. This position may guide and oversee Corporate Secretarial activities within the organization. This position may or may not have an assigned administrative support staff on a full time, shared or part-time basis. This position requires substantial post bar legal experience (typically, 15 or more years) combined with a detailed knowledge of the structure and operations of the organization, its subordinate units and the markets in which it operates.

 

Multi-Lawyer Environment - Core Job Structure

General Counsel – Multi-Lawyer Environment
This position is responsible for setting the overall legal strategy of the organization and for providing legal advice and counsel to the Chief Executive Officer, the executive leadership team, the Board and the organization as a whole. This position is a central participant in all substantive negotiations relative to the purchase and sale of business units, mergers and acquisitions, major customer and other contracts, and regulatory and related matters. This position determines the strategic position of the organization relative to litigation and selects, directs and manages outside counsel, where appropriate. This position may guide and oversee Corporate Secretarial activities within the organization. This position provides leadership and guidance to a subordinate staff of professional lawyers, legal paraprofessionals and support staff and ensures that they are appropriately trained and developed for the challenges facing the organization.

Assistant General Counsel (Executive Level Position)

This position provides executive level legal advice and counsel to the organization in support of the overall legal strategy developed by the General Counsel. This position may provide advice to operating executives on a broad range of legal issues impacting the organization as a whole or may provide expertise on one or more legal specialties based on a deep knowledge of the organization and its needs. This position may provide leadership and direction to less experienced attorneys, paraprofessionals and other staff relative to the area of specialty or on more general legal matters.   This position may select, engage and direct outside counsel to undertake specific and complex work requiring the application of highly specialized legal knowledge. This position requires substantial post bar legal experience (typically, 12 - 15 or more years) combined with a detailed knowledge of the structure and operations of the organization, its subordinate units and the markets in which it operates.

 

Senior Counsel (Individual Contributor Position)

This position provides legal advice and recommendations for action to executives and management regarding complex matters which have or may have a significant impact on business activities and operations. This position may combine a knowledge of one or more legal specialties with sound business acumen and knowledge of the business objectives as they relate to the matter at hand. This position operates under general direction from law department management. This position may negotiate matters of some complexity, research legal principles and precedents, consult with outside counsel, draft and execute legal documents, gather relevant case related information using multiple sources and methods in order to accomplish the assigned legal and business objectives. This position may assist other less experienced professionals, paraprofessional and support staff in developing solutions to problems presented. Incumbents are likely to have 8 to 10 years of post bar experience in a combination of law firm and corporate settings. May be a member of the bar of multiple states.

 

Counsel

This position provides legal advice and recommendations for action to executives and management regarding matters of intermediate complexity which have or may have a sizable dollar impact on business activities and operations. This position primarily leverages its knowledge of its legal specialty in providing counsel as it builds its knowledge of the business context in which it operates. This position may receive specific direction from management or more senior law professionals as to the outcomes, process and schedules expected.   This position may negotiate legal issues within defined parameters, research legal principles and precedents, consult with outside counsel, draft and execute legal documents, gather relevant case related information using multiple sources and methods. This position may provide work guidance to paraprofessional and support staff, if any, in developing solutions to problems presented. Incumbents are likely to 5 to 7 years of post bar experience in a combination of law firm and corporate settings. May be a member of the bar of multiple states.

 

Senior Paralegal        

This position, under the general guidance of an attorney, applies a knowledge of legal processes and procedures to perform the following types of work: legal research, conducting fact gathering interviews with clients or witnesses, drafting legal documents of some complexity, maintaining and updating files, monitoring case schedules and filing deadlines, drafting correspondence and pleadings, summarizing depositions, interrogatories and testimony, performing statistical analyses and documentary research, and attending court or hearings in support of attorneys, if needed. In addition to generalist paralegal knowledge, the incumbent may also have more specialized skills in areas such as real estate, intellectual property, or others at a senior paraprofessional level. Incumbents in this role are expected to demonstrate excellent organizational, communications and time management skills. Incumbents should be qualified in an American Bar Association approved curriculum and, ideally, have Certified Legal Assistant designation or have passed the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination. Incumbents in this senior role are likely to have 5 to 7 years of experience after qualification.

 

Paralegal

This position, under the supervision of an attorney, applies a knowledge of legal processes and procedures to perform the following types of work at an intermediate level of complexity: legal research, conducting fact gathering interviews with clients or witnesses, drafting legal documents of intermediate complexity, maintaining and updating files, monitoring case schedules and filing deadlines, drafting more routine correspondence and pleadings, summarizing depositions, interrogatories and testimony, performing statistical analyses and documentary research, and attending court or hearings in support of attorneys, if needed. In addition to generalist paralegal knowledge, the incumbent may also have more specialized skills in areas such as real estate, intellectual property, or others at an intermediate paraprofessional level. Incumbents in this role are expected to demonstrate excellent organizational, communications and time management skills. Incumbents should be qualified in an American Bar Association approved curriculum and, ideally, have Certified Legal Assistant designation or have passed the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination. Incumbents in this senior role are likely to have 2 to 4 years of experience after qualification.


Executive Assistant to the General Counsel

(Match where Assistant primarily supports the General Counsel – in some smaller organizations this position might support another non-legal function head executive with similar organizational standing to the General Counsel on a shared basis) 

This position supports the General Counsel by performing a variety of administrative and paraprofessional tasks such as: management of the general Counsel’s daily schedule, screening of telephone calls and visitors, processing routine correspondence, coordinating meetings and events, making travel arrangements, processing travel and other expenses through the internal administrative systems, tracking routine budget items, providing periodic, work direction to other administrative support staff and temporary workers, and undertaking ad hoc projects to support the more efficient operation of the office.


Administrative Assistant – Legal

This position provides administrative support within the law department and may be assigned to one more executives, attorneys or professionals. This position may use departmental templates to process routine legal and non-legal correspondence and documents, and may also maintain the schedule of the supported professional(s). A working knowledge of office productivity software and internal company administrative systems is required. This position requires familiarity with legal terminology. Other tasks may include making travel arrangements for the supported professionals, tracking travel expenses, coordinating meetings with internal and external individuals, screening telephone calls, and other administrative tasks. Incumbents will generally have 2 to 5 years of administrative work experience and may have an Associates or undergraduate degree. This position does not require the incumbent to be a qualified paralegal.

 

Multi-Lawyer Environment - More Complex Job Structure

 

Deputy General Counsel       

(Match only if there is a clear Number 2 in the law Department).

This position supports the General Counsel in the development of the overall legal strategy of the organization and assists in its implementation. This position may have specific responsibility for providing legal support and advice to a sizeable part of the overall organization based on a combination of legal expertise and knowledge of the business. This position frequently leverages this knowledge to conduct important negotiations for the benefit of the organization, or to eliminate or mitigate significant actual or potential risks or liabilities. This position may provide leadership and direction to some subordinate legal professionals, paraprofessionals and support staff.   In addition, this position maintains close working relationships with outside counsel providing them with direction and oversight on important issues or transactions. This position may stand-in at important meetings or decision points during periods of absence of the General Counsel. This position may also assist the General Counsel on Board of Directors related issues. This position requires substantial post bar legal experience (typically, 15 or more years) combined with a detailed knowledge of the structure and operations of the organization, its subordinate units and the markets in which it operates.

 

Division General Counsel      

This position is responsible for formulating and implementing a legal strategy for its assigned division, nationally and internationally, to support its long term business objectives and consistent with the overall legal strategy of the parent company. This position provides advice and counsel to the Top Division Executive and the most senior executives of the division on material legal and business matters impacting or potentially impacting the division. This position applies both seasoned business and legal judgment while serving as a senior member of the divisional leadership team. In addition to other legal responsibilities, this position may provide oversight and guidance on divisional governance and compliance matters consistent with the practice of the parent company. This position has on-going contact with the General Counsel of the corporation on a broad range of legal issues.   This position may provide direction and leadership to law professionals and support staff assigned to the division, if any.   In addition, this position selects and engages outside counsel to provide critical support on complex legal, regulatory and business issues. This position requires substantial post bar legal experience (typically, 12 - 15 or more years) combined with a detailed knowledge of the structure and operations of the division and the overall organization.

 

Subsidiary General Counsel  

This position is responsible for formulating and implementing a legal strategy for a subsidiary of a parent organization. This position advises the executive leadership of the subsidiary on national and international legal issues and risks impacting the subsidiary to support the achievement of long term business goals. This position ensures that that the subsidiary's legal positions are consistent with the legal strategy of the parent organization. This position applies both seasoned business and legal judgment while serving as a senior member of the subsidiaries executive leadership team. In addition to other legal responsibilities, this position provides oversight and guidance on subsidiary registration, governance, regulatory reporting and compliance matters consistent with the practices and policies of the parent company. This position may provide direction and leadership to law professionals and support staff assigned to the subsidiary, if any, and facilitates their growth and development both within the subsidiary and in the corporation as a whole. In addition, this position selects and engages outside counsel to provide critical support on complex legal, regulatory and business issues. This position requires substantial post bar legal experience (typically, 15 or more years) combined with a detailed knowledge of the structure and operations of the subsidiary and its parent organization.

 

Intellectual Property Counsel           

(Match only where IP is the sole focus of the position – if IP is only a partial responsibility -chose another attorney position and select IP as a Specialty)

This position is responsible for guarding and protecting the organization’s portfolio of intellectual property assets and for mitigating risks associated with intellectual property issues. This position provides advice and counsel to operating managers and executives on securing, protecting and defending the organizations intellectual property claims and assets. This position may work closely with operating managers, engineers, scientists, software developers, researchers, or others to identify services, products or items that are good candidates for protection by patent, trademark or copyright. This position prepares and structures the necessary claims and supporting materials for filing in the appropriate domestic or international Patent Offices or other institution charged with granting intellectual property protection. This position may also be actively involved in investigating violations or the organizations intellectual property including counterfeiting and piracy issues. Incumbents should be registered with the USPTO and have 5 to 7 years of post bar experience as an Intellectual Property lawyer. Additionally, this position likely, requires a undergraduate degree in a technical disciple relevant to the operations of the organization.

 

Contract Negotiator (Non-Lawyer)  
This position prepares, negotiates, and manages various standard and non-standard contracts for the organization to ensure they comply with business requirements as well as corporate policy. This position operates under general direction from law department management. The position has authority to negotiate contracts within certain parameters specified by the General Counsel or other Senior Lawyers. This position may report to the General Counsel in a very small department or to a direct report to the General Counsel in a somewhat larger department. Incumbents may have experience working as a contract negotiator from within an organizational business unit prior to working in the law department. Typically requires a bachelors degree and at least 8 - 10 years relevant experience.

 

Manager Compliance 

This position, under the direction of the General Counsel or other designated executive, is responsible for the effective implementation of the organization’s compliance and ethics program for an assigned substantial area of the business or for an assigned series of complex business processes. This position works closely with peer level operational management in providing advice on the interpretation and implementation of compliance policies and in evaluating the compliance implications of planned business activities. This position provides direction and guidance to subordinate compliance staff, if any, relative to the implementation, monitoring, investigation, evaluation and reporting compliance policies, programs and issues. This position is responsible for ensuring effective remediation of non-compliant situations within its assigned areas, through the re-design of processes and testing of their effectiveness. This position requires a comprehensive understanding of the assigned business area and an in-depth knowledge of the legislation, regulations, compliance policies and standards that apply to it. This position typically requires a degree and 8 to 10 years of experience.