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| 3 minutes read

General Counsel Survey 2023: 'Trusted Advisor' is an earned title

There are heaps of great insights from Passle’s recently published General Counsel Survey 2023

Notably, I wanted to highlight the two quotes from General Counsels (GCs) at the end of the report.

“As a major global business, I engage law firms in many countries. If I need to know something I tend to pick up the phone to talk to the firms directly, but it would be helpful if they were able to proactively share updates that were timely and relevant to me, and that would certainly be something that would make them stand out.” 

President, Legal at a $70bn Global Petrochemical Corporation

"People in my position are engaged with more than just legal - we deal with HR issues, acquisitions, compliance and more. We’re busy and we want law firms that can tell us critical information in a concise way...Firms need to stop thinking about GCs and CLOs as lawyers and instead approach us as legally-minded business owners, but many just aren’t there yet.” 

GC, a leading US Cloud Services Firm 

Both quotes reference the relationships the GCs want to establish with their law firms. The great news is that there is a clear opportunity to differentiate your services from your counterparts in the industry. 

Nothing from what these GCs are asking for is absurdly difficult to deliver - most people familiar with the term ’trusted advisor’ would likely agree that asking to be kept informed is a reasonable request and something you would expect any good trusted advisor to do for their key clientele. 

What the GCs are asking for in a nutshell: 

  • For their lawyers to “proactively share updates" on matters that are timely & relevant to them and their business 
  • Tell them “critical information” in a concise way 
  • Stop thinking of GCs as lawyers and instead approach them as "legally-minded business owners"

If you have consumed any advice on becoming a ‘trusted advisor’, you would likely agree that these are all reasonable requests from your clients. 

You have to earn the right to be one of the lawyers a GC picks up the phone to, and of course, delivering on projects and instructions you’ve been tasked with is key. However, what we are talking about here is “added value”. How do you help and serve your clients and your wider community? 

GCs are making it easy for you by telling you exactly what they want and need. 

As the report suggests, on average a GC will spend almost a whole working day per week consuming content and information. How much “share-of-attention” are you garnering from these GCs and your key business contacts? 

Whilst you may not be able to report on exactly how much of the ‘8 hours per week’ you are able to attract, there is an opportunity to be mindful of what information a particular GC is going to be interested in at any given moment. 

The final piece of the puzzle to crack after you have collated the relevant insight & information you want to share is how you then deliver this to the GC in a meaningful way. 

For some, you will know exactly the channel that will resonate - if I send “GC X” an email with a link on a Sunday evening, I know they’ll be prepping for the week ahead and thus likely to read my insight. For others, you may know they will pick up their news when they are on LinkedIn, or bookmark links when receiving timely newsletters/client alerts. 

The more you can tailor your approach to inform your client and package the message in a context that is personalised around their business needs, the more likely you’ll be the first person they think of when it comes to picking up the phone. 

Finally, whilst these tactics can be scaled up, for the majority of lawyers we work with, there is a finite group of contacts each care about being their ‘trusted advisor’. Therefore, you will be more effective by tailoring your messages rather than attempting to communicate with mass markets. This will only work to dilute the usefulness of your insight. 

Download the full GC Survey from this link here. 


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