Download the Alumni Networks Report: Spotlight on the Legal Sector 2021

How a well-managed network can enhance business development.

Law firms have long recognized the value of maintaining strong relationships with former employees, particularly to facilitate future business development. As firms navigate the complex and ever-changing markets in which they compete, building and nurturing powerful alumni networks can give them a crucial edge.

BoardEx’s Alumni Networks: Spotlight on the Legal Sector 2021, our inaugural report on this topic, focuses primarily on the US and, specifically, the general counsels (GCs) of Fortune 1000 companies. Corporate GCs are playing increasingly important roles, not only as highly skilled and experienced in-house lawyers but also as valued strategic business partners within the C-suite. The connections that come with this role make GCs incredibly valuable members of their alumni networks and, in turn, to these firms’ business opportunities.

Drawing on BoardEx’s unique and extensive data, we examine these GCs’ average tenure, age, gender and educational background. We also rank which law firms, corporations and government entities come out on top according to the number of GC alumni.  The report concludes with a glimpse at the GCs of the UK’s FTSE 350 companies, identifying some of the main similarities and contrasts with their US counterparts.

BoardEx’s Alumni Networks: Spotlight on the Legal Sector 2021 offers unmatched insight into the characteristics of leading GCs, their networks and their connections to those with influential positions at major companies, making it an essential read for firms looking to make the most of their alumni networks.


Alumni Networks Matter

Good personal contacts are vital in most professional environments – and the legal sector is no exception. Smart law firms have long recognized the value of maintaining strong alumni relationships with influential and aspiring former employees, particularly with regard to developing future business.

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Through a strong alumni network, firms can drive business by leveraging their corporate ambassadors in their new places of work. Such contacts can be crucial. Firms that rely on referrals and warm introductions rather than cold calls when engaging with senior executives at other companies will have a significant competitive advantage. 

Yet to make the most of their former employees, firms must invest in creating, managing and sustaining a strong alumni network. With proper innovation and managements they will chart those who are in positions of influence.


The importance of the general counsel as it relates to business development
Whether working in private practice, as a senior lawyer in government, or as a general counsel (GC), there are many career paths and roles available to those in the legal sector. This report focuses particularly on the GCs of Fortune 1000 companies.

The GC is a company’s chief legal officer and, traditionally, their role has been to provide legal advice to the CEO and board of directors, manage risk and ensure legal compliance. But in recent decades, the GC has become an increasingly important member of many large corporations’ senior management teams.

Alumni networks are important in the M&A transactions space.
The M&A transactions market is huge and of enormous commercial value to the law firms that act as advisors (outside counsel). Transactions have boomed in 2021 as corporations take advantage of cheap financing, large profits and buoyant share prices. Global M&A transactions in 2021 so far are worth about $4trn[2], more than double the amount for the same period of 2020.


This report examines how alumni networks can make the difference in whether a law firm is considered, approached and selected as outside counsel. 

[1] The Fortune 1000 companies are the 1,000 largest US incorporated companies and companies authorized to conduct business in the US by revenue and for which data is publicly available, published annually by Fortune magazine.

[2] James Fontanella-Khan, ‘Global dealmaking set to break records after frenzied summer’, Financial Times September 5 2021.

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