Difference between Corporate Counsel & General Counsel

Corporate Counsels vs General Counsel.

 A person who gives legal advice is referred to as a lawyer. He may also be referred to as a counsel. He provides his legal opinions regarding civil matters, criminal matters, and miscellaneous. The counsel also represents clients in the court of law. The term counsel may refer to one person or a group of lawyers. First, we need to understand the difference between Corporate Counsels vs General Counsel.

The term counsel may have different meanings in each country. There are various fields counsel practices in. The legal profession is a vast field; numerous people are practicing under the area of their interest. The term counsel is usually given to a person with extensive experience in the legal field. It is more of a respected term in the profession. 

Types of Counsel 

Who is a corporate counsel vs general counsel? A person who gives any legal advice to a department, company, or organization on a general term is a general counsel. A general counsel works only for the company he is employed under and not a law firm. He gives his opinions on several different matters relating to the company.  

Similarly, a person who gives legal advice to the corporate affairs of a company is referred to as corporate counsel. His position is restricted only to the corporate affairs of the company or organization he works under. The corporate affairs of a company mean following the regulations of a company towards the government and public. 

Some Key Points of Corporate Counsel vs. General Counsel 

  • A general counsel’s field of work is vast and diversified. This means that a general counsel deals with various legal matters of the company. It involves many aspects like intellectual property law, corporate compliances, contracts, etc. A corporate counsel’s field of work is restricted. This means that a corporate counsel deals with the company’s legal affairs only. They do not make executive-level decisions. 
  • A general counsel’s role is more of an executive position. He takes critical decisions of the company, manages legal compliances and corporate governance of the company. The general counsel discusses legal matters with other leaders and top management of the company. 
  • He forms business opinions that affect the companies operation. Whereas the corporate counsel focuses on complying with the companies act, labor laws, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, etc. The corporate counsels do take decisions for the company, but not at the level of general counsels. They merely report it to the general counsel or the chief legal officer, who then reports to other executives. 
  1. The General Counsel leads and manages the legal team of the company. The general counsel usually has a right over all the critical decisions. He advises the legal team. Whereas the corporate counsels are usually the legal team. 
  • They report to the company’s Chief Legal Officer. They also work as in-house lawyers. Corporate lawyers take steps to avoid unnecessary litigation and disputes among companies. 
  • The general counsel of the company hears from various departments. Different departments of the company request counsel for their legal opinions. This means that that the general counsel is a core leader in the management of the business. The corporate counsels work by themselves. 
  • They manage the internal business affairs, as well as the corporate functions outside. In addition, they handle matters relating to employment, tax-related matters, policy, and regulatory matters. 
  • Expectations of a general counsel are a lot more than a corporate counsel. Companies are looking beyond legal advice from a general counsel. They prefer someone who can contribute to the company’s growth. 
  • A general counsel plays a vital role in the growth of the company. Don’t ignore the contribution from the corporate counsel of the company as well. These two positions play essential roles in legal matters too.


To think corporate counsel vs general counsel, both play critical roles within the company. Legal opinions matter every time a vital decision is being taken. 

However, each position fits differently in different work environments. To make the perfect match is a difficult one, as both roles are competitive. A general counsel fits all types of companies, whereas a corporate counsel fits a more corporate environment.

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