The Rise of the General Counsel

October 8, 2012 Ben Heineman Jr has addressed the rise in the role of in-house counsel in an article entitled “The Rise of the General Counsel” for The Harvard Business Review. The article responds to a recent New York Times DealBook column by Andrew Ross Sorkin, “Big Law Steps Into Uncertain Times,” noting that Sorkin’s account fails to discuss the developing role of in-house counsel.

Heineman picks out two “critical trends for major companies in the US”: 
"The general counsel, not the senior partner in the law firm, is now often the go-to counselor for the CEO and the board on law, ethics, public policy, corporate citizenship, and country and geopolitical risk.

There has thus been a related, dramatic shift in power from outside private firms to inside law departments."

The rising status and power of general counsel has meant that they “have forged new leadership and cooperation with firms on matters and fostered new competition and control on money.”


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