07 May 2015

General counsel climb the corporate ladder

GCs are increasingly powerful in companies with many making it to the top, according to The GC Excellence survey.

GCs are on the corporate ladder TheaDesign

A growing band of general counsel are now climbing the corporate ladder and aspiring to the role of CEO. According to the latest research from GC Excellence, they see themselves not only as top lawyers but also business leaders. The latest example is the appointment of Julie Spellman Sweet as Accenture PLC's new North American group chief executive who headed up the legal department at the company. GCs now see themselves as primarily a stakeholder in business decisions with one in two saying this was their role whilst 90 per cent reported that they gave broader advice than purely legal, according to a global survey of 127 GCs and top legal officers released Wednesday by TerraLex, a law firm network.

At the top

According to Law360, other CEOs who started as in-house counsel include Bank of America Corp. Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan,  Pfizer Inc.’s GC-turned-CEO Jeffrey Kindler, who has changed companies but maintained CEO status at Centrexion Corp and Timothy Mayopoulos, Fannie Mae’s CEO since 2012. 


The research revealed that legal operations is no longer the central role of general counsel -  only  32.2 percent of respondents view this as their primary job. 'So profound has been the recent evolution in the role of general counsel at leading corporations that they are now expected to contribute to a business’ sales pitch,' the survey said. The GC Excellence Research Report, in association with law firm network TerraLex, can be obtained from benmartin@globalcitymedia.com. Sources: Law360; GC Excellence Report

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