Mark Roellig, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at MassMutual, and Dawson Horn, Vice President and Association General Counsel at AIG, discussed what it takes to be a successful general counsel in a Fireside Chat at the 2015 Chief Legal Officer Leadership Forum in New York on Feb. 19. During the chat, Roellig pointed out that today’s general counsel must be able to collaborate with different departments within an organization.
Roellig noted that a general counsel is a leader who can guide various departments, and ultimately, help an organization thrive. It takes a team to succeed, Roellig said, and a general counsel can help an organization establish goals to ensure its employees stay on track and work together. In addition, Roellig said performance incentives are vital in an organization, and a general counsel can play an important role in creating these rewards: “I’m a huge believer in differentiating and paying for performance. I do believe that A players get you results and B players get you C results. You just have to have the best and brightest and recognize them.”
According to Roellig, a general counsel should be prepared to make organizational changes if necessary. Also, Roellig noted that a general counsel should take an active role in his or her organization’s daily operations: “You have to be proactive. I think Colin Powell would say, see around corners. See the issue before it happens. See the legal issue that isn’t a legal issue before it happens because the AG’s, as we know, sort of create law all the time.”