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in collaboration with

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Brandon Smith

For everyone who is considering participating in this program and think they don’t have enough time…there is one thing that you can be certain of: 

While there will never be a perfect time for this type of investment - the dividends you will receive from your investment could never be more timely."


Executive Vice President & General Counsel

CHS Inc.


General Counsels place a high priority on developing potential future GCs in their departments.  Professional capability development is very important.  However, perhaps the most critical development factor is building the qualities that transform great lawyers into leaders - not only of law departments, but also of the larger organization.  

Among these leadership qualities are an ability to work collaboratively with CEOs and executive team members, to interact confidently and effectively with the Board, to be a strategic solution-finder for business challenges, to deploy ‘situational leadership,’ to have high EQ, and to possess the elusive quality of executive presence.

Developing these leadership qualities can be challenging in any function.  It can be especially so for lawyers, who succeed for many years on the basis of their legal capabilities, versus exhibited leadership.  And for those high-potential lawyers who already exhibit leadership strength, there are significant opportunities to accelerate and hone their leadership growth.

Chair, Brandon Smith


The Vanguard Forum Leadership Development Program for Next Generation General Counsel focuses on building and accelerating leadership capabilities among high potential corporate in-house counsel so they: 

  • Become more impactful leaders

  • Accelerate their readiness to become GC 

  • Are better prepared to be successful as a GC 


A cadre of 12-15 GC-selected high potentials, from six to ten companies, will participate in a series of highly interactive sessions on critical leadership topics, led by GCs, other C-Suite executives, and Vanguard.  


The mix of participants from multiple companies will be valuable for several reasons.  It will bring fresh thinking and fresh experiences to the work.  It will enrich the quality of the program by involving multiple GCs and other executives as session leaders.  And it will enable the participants to further build their networks.


This is not a conventional training program.  Rather, the program will follow the effective core model of the Vanguard Network forums. 


Each session will involve a combination of fireside chats, dialogue between the session leaders and the participants, and small group work by the participants on simulations and dynamic case studies.  


Sessions will center on the leadership qualities that the sponsoring GCs identify as critical to success in attaining and succeeding in the GC role.  The purpose will be to develop and accelerate these qualities among the participants, so that they are attractive GC candidates earlier in their career trajectories, and can continue to grow, learn and succeed in the GC role.

This program was beneficial for me in so many ways. It helped me better understand the actual job and critical relationships with the CEO, Peers, and Board as you step into the role. I learned a lot from the GC Faculty and my peers and hope to continue to support it as a GC to give others the same opportunities."


Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer

2022-2023 Vanguard Next Gen GC participant


The program will unfold over six months.  This timeframe is based on the reality that leadership capabilities need time to be internalized and reinforced, and on the importance of developing a strong network among the participants that will generate long-term peer development, learning, and support.

This outline assumes a hybrid model of face-to-face sessions and remote sessions.  If necessary, the program will convert to an entirely Zoom model.


We're now accepting nominations for the program starting in September, 2024. The program will consist of 6 modules. Modules 1 and 6 are in-person from noon to 7 pm. Intervening modules are virtual and last 2.5 hours.


Exact dates to follow.


GC-led Programming

Vanguard and sponsoring GCs review and define the program elements and trajectory, including the role to be played by the GCs and fellow executives leading sessions.

Small Group Format

Sponsoring GCs each select 1-2 high performing direct reports to participate in the program.  The class of participants will be around 12-15 total to maximize interaction and foster networking. 

Kick-off Session &

Reception in Washington, DC

Attended by participants, GCs and Vanguard principals.  This afternoon session will start with Lunch and will be structured to facilitate networking.  The sessions will include an introduction to the program and discussions around expectations of a successful GC, lessons learned/mistakes made by the GCs in their evolution, and structured small group work and networking among the participants.  The sessions will be followed by an evening reception to process the day's learnings and connect more deeply.

Six Monthly, 2 to

2.5-hour Modules

A kick-off in-person session followed by 4 virtual modules and a final, in-person module. These will consist of two sessions, which will range from fireside chats with Q&A, to role-playing, team exercises, and small group simulations and case study work. Each session in each module will address a specific area critical to earning a GC position and then succeeding in it. To view example modules, click here.


To view previous program modules, click here. Modules for the next program starting in September, 2024 will be announced soon.


In addition to attending the modules, participants need to be committed to the following:

Monthly Assignments

Between monthly modules, there will be modest assignments for the participants that will build on the previous module and prepare for the next.  Examples are short videos on specific topics by Vanguard C-Suite executives, articles from HBR, and other readings.    These will also include manager check-ins and integrating the session learnings into work participants are already doing.  

Monthly Peer Sessions

The monthly assignments will become the topic of 60 minute small peer group discussions via Zoom among the participants. These discussions will further internalize the leadership concepts and also enhance networking among the participants.

Coaching Conversation

with a GC

Participants will have two to three coaching conversations with a GC from a different organization to get guidance on career or day-to-day challenges or whatever topics the participant wants to bring.   

Development Roadmap & Action Plan

By the final module, participants will create a written roadmap to help them grow and develop as Leaders. They will capture the key insights from modules, GC coaching conversations, feedback from their manager and program peers to create an action plan to help them become more impactful leaders and be better prepared to be successful as a GC.   


  • Must be nominated by their GC and recognized as a leader in their legal department who demonstrates the potential to become a GC one day.

  • Must report directly to their organization’s most-senior legal officer, and generally have a title like deputy general counsel, associate general counsel, managing attorney or counsel, or serve as the general counsel for a division or region of the organization.

  • Must be able to dedicate 6 to 7 hours per month to the program.  This includes attending 3 to 4 hours of scheduled “live” virtual sessions and completing 2 to 3 hours of assignments, manager/mentor follow ups, peer check-ins, etc. between modules.  

  • This is a “working” program where participants will be responsible for their own development.  


  • $11,000 per participant, inclusive of receptions and meals

If you'd like more information, please contact Tony Powe at


Foley & Lardner
Douglas Barnard

I could have used a session like this earlier in my career. I encountered so many unexpected things, especially in my first GC role.


Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary

CF Industries


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Founder and Principal

Dick Mosher


Senior Advisor

Garrick Isert


Vice Chair Vanguard Forum for General Counsel; Executive Coach; past Managing Director General Counsel 50

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