Curriculum Development Process

The curriculum for the ACC In-house Counsel Certification Program was developed through an extensive literature review and a series of consultations with subject matter experts. The curriculum was further refined, and then validated, by the ACC Education Advisory Council—a ten-person panel of current and former chief legal officers. Throughout the development process, there has been special care to ensure that the curriculum reflects material relevant across industries and geographies.

Curriculum Overview

The ACC In-house Counsel Certification Program covers the core competencies that are applied by corporate counsel professionals. Certification is not tied to any specific country’s laws, but draws from the experience of ACC’s global membership to identify what is essential to the successful in-house practice. The program’s 25 hour curriculum targets three competency areas: Stakeholder Relationships, Law Department Management, and Legal Services.

Stakeholder Relationships— This competency area addresses the “art” of the in-house practice. Participants will learn how to navigate the corporate structure through increased emotional intelligence, leadership, and people management skills. Positioning the in-house attorney squarely in the commercial context, the highlighted skills emphasize how working in a law department differs from other practice settings. To advance in an in-house career or to navigate a senior position, a solid grasp of these skills is necessary.

Law Department Management— This competency area addresses how to run an effective law department based on current best practices. Specific skills that will be taught include financial management, project management, human resources, and strategic planning. A theme across competency areas, the highlighted skills relate to creating value for—and demonstrating value to—the greater organization. At the core is an awareness of how the legal department impacts the organization’s bottom line.

Legal Services— This competency area addresses the legal function of the in-house practice. Specific topics that will be taught include ethics and compliance training, negotiation, and risk management. Across industries, these topics represent areas where in-house attorneys often provide counsel. The focus here is not to teach substantive law. Rather, the curriculum provides a framework for delivering informed legal policy and for helping to protect the organization from legal liability.

1. Meet Eligibility Criteria

Eligible participants are licensed attorneys who either a) are currently employed as in-house counsel (no minimum experience required), or b) previously have been employed as in-house counsel (for a minimum of one year). Please note that attorneys currently employed at law firms are not eligible to participate in this program.

2. Attend Training

The certification program features approximately 25 hours of training.  The in-person training is held over a four day period. The online program is a combination of self-paced online training modules and live virtual workshops.

3. Complete Final Assessment

Participants will have 90 minutes to complete an assessment at the conclusion of training. Through this multiple choice exam, participants will demonstrate their understanding of the program’s core competencies and skills.

4. Receive In-house Counsel Certified (ICC) Designation

After completing the required training and passing the final assessment, successful participants will earn the ICC designation from the ACC Credentialing Institute.

5. Remain in Good Standing

The ICC designation is valid for one year from the month that a participant passes the final assessment of the certification program. After the first year, 14 hours of continuing legal professional development (CLPD) are required annually to maintain the ICC designation. CLPD requirements will be distributed across the following areas:

  • Stakeholder relationships, two hours
  • Law department management, two hours
  • Legal services, two hours
  • Ethics, two hours
  • Electives in substantive areas of law, six hours

To count towards maintenance of the ICC designation, CLPD hours must be earned through an approved training provider. In addition, there is an annual maintenance fee of $300 for non-members of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). There is no annual maintenance fee for ACC members.

The ACC Credentialing Institute reserves the right to modify program content at its discretion.

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