Corporate Governance in the Netherlands

The journey towards a commissionership

How do you prepare for a role on a Board of Commissioners or Board of Supervisors? Is it compatible with your current job? What can you contribute as a Legal Partner or General Counsel? These are legitimate questions from lawyers who are considering commissionership in the short or long term.

Legal People regularly organizes small-scale, private sessions for experienced lawyers. During these sessions, experienced professionals share their knowledge on specific topics in complete confidentiality. The following are some tips in response to an event on the subject of lawyers and supervisory commissionerships that recently took place at our office.

Tips from an experienced professional

Trust your experience

As a Legal Partner or General Counsel, you often contribute different knowledge and experience than the existing supervisors. You also possess a broad overview and analytical skills. You are able to familiarize yourself rapidly with the files, and can establish and maintain an appropriate distance. You think in terms of solutions and are a capable advisor. Lawyers are well suited to supervisory roles.

Ensure that you have a plan, and prepare thoroughly

Make sure that you have a plan in place: what do you want to achieve, and how do you intend to do so? Undertake specialized training and use this to help you build a broad and relevant network. Make it known within your network that you are open to being a commissioner, either now or later. In addition, prepare interviews for a supervisory role well and take the time to properly consider the role before applying. For example, are there any potential conflicts of interests or a possible reputational risk involved? Not every commissionership will be appropriate.

Gain thorough knowledge, and be confident of your role

When commencing a commissionership, read up on relevant matters on the Internet, and learn more about the sector involved. From the start, make sure you have as many conversations within the organization as possible. You have to be highly motivated, as this represents a significant time investment in terms of reading files, preparing for meetings, sparring with other members and consulting with stakeholders. Should there be any problems, you need to be available 24/7. Therefore, make sure you have a good understanding of the professionalism of the organization and its people beforehand.

In addition to this, know where you stand and stick to your task. You are fulfilling the role of a supervisor, not a lawyer or general counsel. Be cautious if you are asked to advise and/or assist in legal matters. Do not review contracts but do monitor a merger, for example. After all, you are involved in the future of the organization.

Be bold!

There are increasing requests specifically for a currently working commissioner, preferably with a legal background. However, specialized search agencies for commissioner positions mostly receive financial profiles, while they see an increasing demand for experienced lawyers. This offers perspective.

Finally; the experience you gain through a commissionership is valuable for your further career. Many lawyers experience it as a source of enrichment. We encourage you to try it.

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