Fundamental change of the General Counsel`s role in companies

in Advisory, 07.01.2013

In a constantly evolving and highly challenging business world, General Counsels (GCs) are being called upon to play an increasingly greater business leadership role, particularly in relation to the management of wider risks. GCs need full empowerment and integral involvement in strategic executive decision-making to maximize the direct impact they can have in organisational risk mitigation.

KPMG’s General Counsel Survey

The aim of the survey was to find out how much progress the GCs are making as business decision-makers, and the challenges they face in this growing role.

This survey is unique in its scope and scale with the culmination of research gathered from across thirty-two countries including Switzerland, three hundred-twenty corporate counsel’s cross-sector, and in both mature and high growth economies. As part of this research we also conduct detailed in-depth interviews with both select GCs of major global companies and KPMG subject matter advisors to generate high quality additional insights.

Our research uncovered an increasingly challenging business environment, where GCs are being called upon to play a greater role in the running of companies, particularly in managing of risks. Another headline finding we identified was a gap between the positive impact GCs believe they can have, and their actual involvement in strategic decision-making, which needs to be addressed.

Are you curious about all details? Find out more about this brand-new survey here:


  1. Jan- Christian Severin

    Dear Sirs,

    I have a general question to the nomination of a GC in a Swiss registered company. What are the main criterias and skills a GC must have i.e. must he be of Swiss Nationality, speak any of the official national language, must have a Swiss Legal Degree ? Can a English Solicitor become a GC of a Swiss registered company without the skills mentioned before ?
    Many thanks for your reply and comments.

    Best regards
    J.Christian Severin

    • KPMG Zürich

      Dear Jan-Christian,

      thank you very much for your interest and comment.

      Under Swiss law, there are generally no formal legal requirements for the nomination of a General Counsel.

      Depending on internal regulations of the company, it is the board of directors’ (and sometimes the executive committee’s) responsibility to nominate a competent candidate that can fulfill the tasks and duties of a GC for the Swiss company.
      It is definitely helpful if a GC of a Swiss company speaks German or French. However, if the company is part of a group with an international business, sound knowledge of the English language could be more important. A law degree in the US or UK could in certain cases even be a better basis for handling international legal matters than a Swiss law degree. If a company is a regulated entity, e.g. a bank regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA, a Swiss law degree and being familiar with the legal regulatory framework in Switzerland is important. Personality, flexibility, project management skills and other soft skills are sometimes more important than language and education. It all depends on the circumstances of the individual case.

      We hope that our remark answers your question.

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