General Counsel in retail and FMCG 2023 | How do you build a high performing legal team?

Author Georgia Morgan-Wynne
December 6, 2023

In November we hosted a General Counsel roundtable for 20 senior leaders in the retail and FMCG sector.

During the interactive discussion, co-chaired by Dan Webster, General Counsel at Harrod, we defined the pillars that create a high performing team and what leadership qualities General Counsel need to possess.

If you can create a positive, values led team culture this will encourage open communication and trust for your team to work effectively. As a General Counsel you should be present and be seen, be able to register the pulse of your business and seek feedback from key stakeholders regularly to assess legal’s image. It was agreed that bringing together both a strategic and human approach for recruitment and management of your team is key.

Recruiting talent

  • Don’t rely solely on a CV – interpersonal skills are crucial in-house
  • Be strategic with your recruitment process – involve a mix of interview styles and people in the organisation
  • Implement a skills assessment, such as technical mark-up, drafting a response to an email or talking through a scenario
  • Look for “culture add” rather than seeking a uniform “culture fit”


  • Adopt a personalized approach to managing direct reports – get to know the individual and lead with empathy
  • Motivate your team by finding stimulating, challenging and varied work
  • Trust your people, give them the autonomy and freedom to thrive
  • Be creative with offering opportunities for growth, transparent about career progression and proactive in salary conversations.

Leadership responsibilities

  • Strive to avoid internal politics. Protect your independence and impartiality
  • Lead by example – it’s important that you carry on doing actual legal work both to keep your skills alive but to be credible as a senior adviser for your team and the business
  • Be understanding the unique perspectives of your team members, you can create an inclusive environment for them to thrive
  • Utilise your position as a General Counsel to actively drive diversity, equity and inclusion within your team, organisation and the broader industry

Nurturing a high-performing legal team is an ongoing journey, marked by strategic recruitment, effective team management, and a commitment to fostering an inclusive culture. As leaders, embracing these insights will not only elevate the legal function but also contribute to the success and growth of the broader business.

If you would like to discuss these topics further or the in-house market or hiring needs for your team, please get in touch with Georgia at

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